I have taught and tutored high school English for four years.
I utilize multiple organizational styles/instructional strategies for teaching—full-class discussion, small-groups/peer-tutoring, lecture, and reflection via both group and independent study and projects that employ Piaget’s theory of learning—the learning cycle—to fulfill the goal for students to gradually progress from “concrete hands-on learning experiences to the abstract formulations of concepts and their formal applications” (58). Providing students with the necessary skills to transfer from concrete thought to abstract, critical thought—that is, teaching them to question everything— will correspondingly facilitate students' inquisitive interest in that which they can learn from literature, its interdisciplinary connections, and these lessons’ and connections’ applicability to the interests, issues/conflicts, relationships, cultural context, etc. that defines their own lives and senses of self. In addition to incorporating Piaget-inspired instructional strategies into my prospective classroom, I will additionally incorporate concepts integral to Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences as I strive to achieve my principal goal of ensuring my students view their English Language arts class content as important and relevant by delivering lessons through diversified media. An opponent to the belief that students should analyze literary concepts solely through text, I regard the implementation of a multimedia approach to instruction and learning to contain immeasurable, incomparable advantages in its recognition of students as highly heterogeneous in their unique methodologies for processing, interpreting, comprehending, and applying learned information. Brilliantly written and directed cinematography, lyrically-profound music, interactive digital (computer-based) programs, historically and culturally-relevant video clips of news broadcasts, excerpts from television programs, etc. that correlate to thematic ideas relevant to the issues faced by my particular student community possess the potential to incentivize students of multiple intelligences to develop a more thorough comprehension of class material and accordingly regard its content as important. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, I incorporate student journals as accompaniments to lessons. These journals serve not only to induce dialectical and philosophical discourse, but also contribute to my objective for students to recognize and value the importance of my content area by serving as student memoirs—their own bildungsromans, i.e., “stories that trace the moral and psychological growth of theprotagonist” (class notes 2007)—the protagonists in this case being my prospective students. Journals do not simply enable students to reflect their own thoughts, experiences, and responses to class content on paper, but it makes them know that their opinions—which are often formed through their unique, diverse cultural frames of reference—are important. In order for my students to discover importance and real-world relevance in that which I teach in my classroom, I must make it actively and earnestly known that their written (and verbal) sentiments hold commensurate importance. Writing is power, and journals do not solely grant students access to the power that exists within one’s capacity to compose opinionated reflections/subjective hypotheses on class material (e.g. literature and its historical/cultural context, film, songs, digital text/programs, performances/plays, news, and other media employed to induce the comprehension and application processes) and the class discussions guided by these materials. Journals may additionally help to counteract the often destructive forces that “often [lead adolescents to] become conformists and are extremely susceptible to peer pressure” (47) by allowing students to access their individual, unique thoughts as their writing brings to surface their own interpretations and perceptions of and reflections on the questions about life and/or the human experience that literature provokes. I intend for student journals to encourage students to view learning English Language arts/literary content as important and “worth their time” by inciting their deeper connection to and appreciation for class content and materials (e.g. literary texts) via engaging in written dialectical discourse, i.e., conversation between the student and the self in order to reach his or her own understanding of the text and its relevance through his or her own culturally and socially constructed viewpoint/contextual frame of reference. Students may develop an even greater regard for the importance of my content area when they can proceed to use their dialectical journals to facilitate further class discussions, and in the process learn about both the commonalities and unique differences that exist amongst themselves and their peers’ perspectives, thought processes/mechanisms for comprehending text, thus also serving as excellent and reliable foundations for young students’ non-academic, yet exceptionally important quests to achieve senses of identity. As a teacher, I can subsequently develop more meaningful lesson plans geared towards student interest by utilizing their journal writing to develop a heightened understanding of “how [my future students] think, what motivates them, and where there interests lie” (47), which will inevitably result in the focus on and exploration of class content that they view as important and worth their time. This outlet may include student-centered discussions of literature that appeals to the context of the students’ particular community and the problems they face, or enhancing curriculum with relevant multimedia (e.g., music, film, clips of television series that hold the power to speak to adolescent students on a personal level, such as Freaks and Geeks)—I regard my options as limitless. The key is consistently recognizing that these students are experiencing perhaps the most emotionally-frustrating and confusing time of their lives when navigating the microcosms of middle and/or high school; teachers need to find methods for inspiring and influencing students who are equally curious as they are fearful about life. If we can help them discover their passions in the short time they spend in our classrooms, we will hold tremendous potential to build students whose curiosities reach beyond textbooks and delve into existential questions concerning their capacity for activating consciousness, and correspondingly understanding concepts like identity, self-awareness, and the power of self-reliance.
Yet to be added
MA Secondary Education with English Language Arts Concentration (2015) BA English Language and Literature (2010)
Yet to be added