Evolution of the English Teacher

Tuesday, April 28, 20158:14 PM

I was talking to someone today who was interested in my job as an English Teacher. She immediately asked me what literature I make my students read. Two things quickly stood out:

  • Do I make them read books?
  • We read literature--but not as much as we used to...
Now this person meant no malice and none was taken, but here's my take away: the job of the English teacher in the common core and 21st century classroom has changed so much just in my six years on the job.

When I decided to become an English teacher, it was all about the literature. I liked the kids, the learning, the writing, but it was about the stories. Today, that's shifted for me. Common core might push us away from too much long-form literature, but that's not at all my concern or the cause for my shift. There's just so much out there to read and write about.

I want my students today to have and make experiences based on texts, and for those texts to come in all different genres and mediums. Sure, I make my students read some things and I teach literature--which I absolutely love, but that job is changing.

Instead of reading the 4-6 whole class novels we used to to, I teach 2-3. Those novels are supplemented by short works, essays, non-fiction, film, and multimedia. More importantly than any of that is what the students make or do. English is about reading and writing, but it's really about developing skills. Technology has assisted education in building the tools to enhance this development tremendously. Students are active learners, researchers, and scholars, creating meaning and content. In the few weeks my tenth graders have pursued 20Time Projects, it's become one of the most meaningful parts of the year for me--and hopefully will be for them, too. 

I love English. I love books, writing, reading, essays--I can even hold my own with making grammar fun sometimes.  It's kind of ironic that what was once such a firm cannon of texts has changed in execution so much. 

I had no idea what I was going to write about when I started this post but I like the reflection. It's interesting to look back on my short career so far and see how things have evolved. Where to next?

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