Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “English teachers”

‘Tis No Place Like Home


I learned through my Washington DC trip that seven days of Hamlet makes one weak. *ka-boom* Seriously, between the humidity, challenging schedule, walking briskly everywhere, and trying to eat healthily on a restaurant diet, I was glad to return home. I am ever so glad to have experienced Summer Academy, yet Dorothy got it right when she told Auntie Em, “Oh, there’s no place like home.” I freely admit to being a creature of known comforts such as my closet, refrigerator, and favorite health food store. 

Before I move on to my next big event of this summer–an AP Conference (no planes or time zones involved), I want to close out my Hamlet KWL chart: my What I Know, What I Want to Know, What I Learned.

What I Know

  • I already knew Hamlet was my favorite Shakespeare play, hence the  incentive to apply to the Folger Summer Academy.
  • Once I accepted, I knew there was going to be some personal discomfort ranging from dipping into the savings account to flying all by my lonesome and finding my way around megatropolis east coast city.
  • I knew I would would be pushed out of my social comfort zone. Gregarious hermits tend to exhibit coping problems at intensive social events.

What I Still Need To a Know

  • I still need to figure out how to assimilate all the wealth of information into my curriculum.
  • I need to know how I can return to the Folger Institute without having to fly there.
  • I would like to know how I can express my enthusiasm and wonder of Shakespeare to not only my students, but also to my friends and family, without appearing as a crazy English teacher. I am terming myself as a Bardinator, someone who appreciates Shakespeare to the point of edginess.

What I Learned–that’s a blog entry unto itself

  • I learned I get crazy before a big trip, worrying and anticipating about details that become trivial and insignificant in the grand plan.
  • I painfully learned when it comes to packing–go for the wheeled suitcase. The weight of a strapped bag increases significantly with each change of planes.
  • I can learn to adapt to most situations.
  • I also learned hotel pillows are never as comfortable as the ones at home.
  • I continually learn about selecting common sense over fashion sense, especially when walking in the rain.
  • I also continually learn that meeting new people and exchanging ideas is an integral component of a fulfilling life.

 For your viewing enjoyment–a wee bit of our Hamlet week: 
NOTE: thanks to the absolutely incredible staff at both the Folger Education Center and at the Folger Library for their hospitality, expertise, generosity, and impartation of how thrilling it is to live and breathe Shakespeare.

The Go-Slow-Need-My-MoJo Mode


Today the seniors begin taking their finals. I have earned the sympathy of staff members who do not teach seniors. Senioritis hit shortly after Spring Break and only graduation can cure its outbreak. There has been epidemic of no shows, skippers, and non-coms floating in my classes.

I have come to the conclusion that teaching seniors is not for sissies. There are only two of us in the English department who willingly sign up to take them on. Why the hesitancy, the reluctance, the fear? Well, this group of students is under the misguided assumption that just because they are eighteen they are adults and are entitled to set their own course. The half-baked logic of  “I’m signing out now because I’m eighteen and can do so” crops up halfway through class with some individuals. This reminds me of the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin raises his hand and asks to be dismissed because his brain is full. Apparently, students are developing smaller brains because they seem to fill up quickly these days. It can’t be that they want to avoid British literature…no, that can’t be. Yet, these same proclaimed adults who have figured out they are able to write their own excuses, haven’t figured out that self-excused absences or any absence not sanctioned by school or a doctor’s note, add up and jeopardize graduation. It has now caught up, and many students are stunned that they haven’t gotten away with it after all.

The reckoning forces are visiting classrooms in force these past couple of weeks. When the office aides come in bearing admin passes I gleefully announce, “More Wonka tickets!” Yes, these yellow slips of beckoning, these invitations, these golden tickets are summons for the select few.  Alas, no chocolate awaits. These little lovelies announce the privilege of coming in after school either Wednesday or on Saturday to make up seat time. I wonder how these same studrnts who do not comprehend the  “play now, pay later” reality will deal with the cause and effect of credit card usage and credit card bills. 

Now with a handful of days remaining, I contemplate the need for time to slow down because I still have so much I want to teach them; however, I’m losing my Mojo because teaching seniors is tough. It’s as tough as herding cats, but I do it, because I’m no sissified English teacher. I’m tough, and I’m thankful for the opportunity of pouring some Dickinson, Keats, Yeats, and Thomas into their brains. It’s what I do. Yup, not everyone can do we do (EDS=English Department Staff). And when those students cross that platform and grab their diplomas, it’s all worth it.

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