When we are young, we learn how to read. Sometime after this, we learn how to read for the different purposes that life throws at us. Some of us become really lucky and get the chance to read for a purpose we have chosen for ourselves. As an aspiring English teacher, I have learned (am still learning, really) how to read for a new purpose: as an educator. Discovering this new technique of reading has not been easy, and it is not something laid out for us in our textbooks. Instead, it is a journey of self-discovery and practice.
Every aspiring teacher has an ideal classroom and a dream of how they want to teach. I’m not quite sure when this dream begins, but it is constantly shaped by their experiences in and outside of the classroom. I was like everyone else and thought I knew what my future classroom would be like, until I was tasked with creating a lesson plan that involved requiring students to read Shakespeare‘s Henry IV, Part 1. Before this, I had never had to consider students reading, and it changed a lot of things, including how I had to read the text myself. Needless to say, I felt truly outside my element.
First, after an initial read-through, my student-oriented reading began with the standards because I simply did not know where else to start. My program had already acquainted me with the standards, but deciding on a standard that a text best fits proved difficult. As it turns out, Shakespeare is hard to fit into one category, and this applied to standards as well. In the end, Henry IV, Part 1 spanned multiple standards consisting of figurative language and rhetoric. Unsurprisingly, Shakespeare’s writing was so rich and offered so many examples for the students that it became a little overwhelming, and if it was overwhelming for me, it was very possible it would be overwhelming for the students too, and this had to be accounted for.
Second, I had to account for the overwhelming aspect of Shakespearen work for high schoolers and the hardest part of my lesson planning—planning for the fact that high school students usually do not complete all the required reading. I am not going to lie; this involved a little cheating where I searched for scenes other teachers had taught. The support I received from fellow education interns, teachers, and support groups I joined on Facebook was astonishing. Suddenly, I was no longer so overwhelmed, and there was a light at the end of the seemingly hundreds of notes and tabs I had placed throughout my copy of Henry IV, Part 1.
Finally, everything started to click, passages in the text stood out as I thought on how the students would receive them, and my lesson plan took form. I fit the chosen passages into activities I believed fit my pedagogical view that developed over time, and while I was excited to have my future students participate in my lesson, I still had that first-time teacher nervousness deep in my bones. One thing I did know though was that I was not alone, and that my fellow teachers would always be there.
The teaching community truly is a community, and if you take nothing else from this blog, please remember you are not alone. There are others just like you, and while your first time planning—or any time planning—may be overwhelming, there is always someone who is prepared to help. Teaching is not easy, especially for those starting out and during these troubling times, but together, we can overcome anything.
Sigma Tau Delta
Sigma Tau Delta, International English Honor Society, was founded in 1924 at Dakota Wesleyan University. The Society strives to
- Confer distinction for high achievement in English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies;
- Provide, through its local chapters, cultural stimulation on college campuses and promote interest in literature and the English language in surrounding communities;
- Foster all aspects of the discipline of English, including literature, language, and writing;
- Promote exemplary character and good fellowship among its members;
- Exhibit high standards of academic excellence; and
- Serve society by fostering literacy.
With over 900 active chapters located in the United States and abroad, there are more than 1,000 Faculty Advisors, and approximately 9,000 members inducted annually.
Sigma Tau Delta also recognizes the accomplishments of professional writers who have contributed to the fields of language and literature.