Thursday, March 15, 2012

Learning from and with students

There are times when teaching the same text over and over again can begin to feel a bit dull. One way to overcome this is by mixing things up--trying new ideas, examining the text from new angles, using different projects, etc. And I absolutely LOVE it when my students teach me something new by coming up with ideas that I had never considered before. Today was a great example. One of my students asked if he could stay after school briefly to bounce ideas off of me for his paper (what a lovely question!). He said he was interested in my suggestion of analyzing Shakespeare's use of equivocation in Macbeth and arguing what his purpose/message is with this. He had some thoughts on the subject, then I asked a couple questions to push his thinking further, and we kept on tossing out ideas and building on them. Suddenly, we were thinking about this in ways that neither of had considered before, and getting increasingly excited about the possibilities that this topic had. It was great to see the wheels in his head turning as he pushed his thinking to new levels, and he kept expressing how he liked these new ideas and thought they were cool. I know that students aren't big fans of writing papers, but he actually seemed to be looking forward to exploring the ideas that we had collaboratively come up with.

The student left my office with a positive attitude and a much clearer notion of the direction he wants to go in, and I came away from this with a new perspective on a play I have read many times over. Something I want to always remember is that being a teacher doesn't just mean teaching others--you also have to be open to continuing to learn and grow. My students love to ask me, "Well what do YOU think of this?" And I remind them that that's not really so important, and that just because I interpret a text a certain way, that doesn't mean that they have to agree with me. I have definitely learned some great things from them, and it's so fun to say what they have to offer.

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