So far I have been able to audit the classes of educators teaching 7th, 9th, college freshmen, and college seniors
My observations have occurred at Georgetown University and Holton-Arms.
All of the educators consented to an educator chat. This chat covers some, and in some cases all of the questions listed below. The educators themselves range from 5 years of teaching to 40 and provide various insights into the field of teaching English Literature.
- How long have you been a teacher?
- What made you go into teaching?
- What is the age group you teach most frequently?
- How would you define your approach to teaching?
- How did you develop the teaching that I will see today?
- Which educators or teaching theories influenced your teaching style
- Do you believe it is important for every student to love literature in order to learn it?
- How do you challenge students to push boundaries in their exploration of a text or in your class?
- How do you encourage research/ exploration of interesting topics in your classes?
- How frequently do you revise your syllabi and assessments?
- Over the course of your career what would you identify as the most significant change to the way we teach literature has been?*
* Asked only of educators with 20+ years of experience.
I received various answers to my questions, and while the first few questions could be considered merely warm-ups they provided some integral background knowledge for understanding the teaching style I witnessed.
When asked “ How would you define your approach to teaching?” all of the educators responded similarly. While the practices differ the goals each educator imagined were the same. They design their lessons with various levels of structure (the older the students are the less structure required, with the exception of the 9th-grade class), each leading to open discussion about the text.
Each class seemed to be broken down into 15 or 30-minute segments. These partitions arose naturally and provided time to check in on comprehension, understanding and allotted and easy transition into new topics, the exception being the 7th-grade class which focused on grammar for 20 minutes of the lesson. The switch from discussion to grammar was predetermined and scheduled for the students, they knew they were appointed to make this transition, however, the change was abrupt.
One of the more interesting questions I’ve asked is “Do you believe it is important for every student to love literature in order to learn it?” Almost all the instructors said that this love helps but is not necessary. I anticipated all of the educators to answer the question differently and with their own experiences of cases where students loved literature and excelled or times when the instructors wished their classes liked the texts a little more, however, this was not the case. For the most part, the educators responded that while they loved literature and a love for literature is helpful, they were able to teach as long as students are open.
My time with each of the instructors exposed me to various types of teaching, various aspects of learning, and ultimately functioned perfectly as a supplement to my independent study of The Approaches to Teaching Literature