Monday, May 16, 2022

What I did this Spring....

This past Spring Semester, I taught a British Lit II class of dual enrollment high school students. I know what you're thinking "British Lit? Wait... don't you do American Lit?" (If you weren't thinking that it's okay; who even knows the distinction outside of my own head?) 

OMG I really adored this class. It reminded me of how much I love the literature that lured me into the life of teaching and studying literature in the first place. I guess I had forgotten over the years that fascination with the Literature anthology that would have me skimming through the parts the teacher never assigned, discovering the works of T.S. Eliot, e.e. cummings (I know-- American, but there's a whole Paris thing in there too). Dorothy Parker, W.H. Auden. I thought about how I tried to take flowers to Aphra Behn's grave back in 2002 at Westminster Abbey the way Virginia Woolf told me all women writers should do only to be flummoxed by the fact that there weren't ANY of the ubiquitous everywhere else in London flower stands near the church. 

And I had this small group of young women who sat in the far right corner of the classroom whose faces lit up every time I talked about a woman writer, or the suffragettes, or Shakespeare's sister. It was, according to several of them in their notes about the semester, the first time many of them had ever been taught literature of people who look like them in an English class. And I had a comment from several of the boys that they had never had anything that spoke to them in a way that made them want to read more on their own outside of class before (this one student enthusiastically wrote about the V.S. Naipaul story we read). And another young man wrote about how he'd never thought of what it took to be a writer before, and how he wondered if he could do that too. Since many of these students at this school are first-generation college students, it means SO MUCH to me to be able to help them understand more about their own paths to future success. 

And one of the young women wrote an incredible poem that I encouraged her to submit to poetry contests because it honestly blew me away. The chance to be THAT MENTOR just gives me absolute chills. 

The students were incredibly sweet to me and gushed about how fun and interesting the class was. I really had the best experience with them and can't wait to get to teach this content again in the future. And maybe I'll get to teach Brit Lit I (and maybe American Lit too!) soon. I love teaching writing. I've been doing it for 20+ years. But getting to teach about Prufrock and giving the students a peach (gummy heart) before their final exams and daring them to "disturb the universe" was what I LIVE FOR. 

Here's hoping for future chances to do more of the same. Fingers way crossed. 

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