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Teaching For The Fun Of Ela
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From my earliest years as a classroom English teacher, I have enjoyed those serendipitous lessons and units when the teaching event enters "the zone." At those moments I know I have found my bliss. Sure, in July we get nostalgic. You may be reading by a pool, at the Folger Shakespeare teacher week, or sharing with other teacher-writers at a National Writing Project seminar, and wherever you are, you are smiling inwardly as you look forward to another year of teaching. We teach teenagers. And for just this brief moment, let's think about teaching "for the fun of it."
The purpose of having fun in the English language arts classroom is twofold: build community and alleviate the monotony, drudgery, and anxiety that reading, speaking, and writing often produce, especially in struggling Cartier Replica students and any and all who are future members of Garrison Keillor's Lake Woebegone Professional Organization of English Majors (POEM). For example, every year, after the learning inventories are tabulated and filed, I ask two or three of the students from each class who are often reluctant literacy learners to create a banner with the caption "A Community of Writers." After the banner is located on a wall with enough space, everyone writes a prescription for our class. I give them the charge to give me advice about how to make the class more fun. And yes, many of them have an "I don't believe this" look. Then throughout the year after the initial postings have come down and have been filed, I refer to their advice. This small activity is fun and illustrates the purpose of having fun in the ELA classroom, a place where student practice and assessment carry the weight of grades. How we organize and practice our craft will determine whether students live in a place of anxiety and insecurity or a place of practice and self-discovery.
This past January, my spouse, our daughter, and I decided that we could not miss President Obama's inauguration. Did you see me? I was about 200 yards in front of the Washington Memorial. It was truly a Super Bowl of friendship where everyone was a winner. Isn't that the best description of our goal for classroom management in our classes? Everyone was respectful, kind, patient, and happy. Genuine fun is realized and experienced when there is mutual respect; everyone wins, and students have ownership in what happens during our time together.
One way we get in the teaching zone is through our professional journals. I look forward to the NCTE publications for a selfish and practical reason: I know I will find your ideas. Through the inspiration of other teachers, I am able to build opportunities for students to have fun in their English class. Fun happens in Tag Heuer Replica Watches classrooms when we debate whether Quint is more obsessed with killing Jaws than Captain Ahab is obsessed with killing Moby Dick. How about when we go on those wonderful field trips to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (where we see two plays), The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, the old Alabama State Capitol, and Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald's house in Montgomery, Alabama?
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