How to: Stay in Love with Reading as an English Teaching Major (As told by Hyperbole and a Half Cartoons)

As an English teaching major in my senior year of college (somewhat…I’ll be done soon), I have often faced my biggest fear: falling out of love with English. 

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It started like all relationships. I became infatuated. I read… and read and read and read and read. There weren’t enough books assigned in school or on the library shelf to satisfy my hunger so I wrote…and wrote and wrote and wrote all the stories that didn’t exist but I wanted to read. I was a written word junkie, I tell you!

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So when it came time to pick my college major, I knew it had to involve English. Originally I just chose teaching because I needed to make money. I was idealistic, but I knew that the world wouldn’t just automatically pay me for reading. I had to trick them into paying me! As a teacher, I would get to read and write and get to talk about both all while doing this:

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So basically I outsmarted the system. I breezed through my required core classes, just waiting for my opportunity to sit in high-level English classes and chat with other academics and feed my love of literature and learning!!!!

I had my early English classes that were SUPER easy, and I was essentially conquering the world one sonnet at a time.

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Then my classes started getting harder. They wanted me to read more, and the material was harder. Obviously, I knew this would happen. But what I didn’t realize was that I would get burnt out on something I once loved. Instead of being excited to learn about new works, I didn’t even read them. I didn’t even show up to class. It seemed boring and useless. I had had too much! I was trying to focus on being in every school activity, have a social life, and waste time on the internet so I left myself no time for my English work. At that time, I was also beginning the classes for my education minor. Instead of being all “YAY! Teaching is great!”, my first class was taught by an abrasive professor who basically told us we were stupid and racist. I thought the class was a good idea, but it made me miserable. Something was wrong. I HATED everything about my major. I didn’t know what to do.

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This would continue for months. Couple that with depression and anxiety, and a job I hated, and I was in a crappy situation. I started to like my classes and become interested, but I had no drive. I knew everything that was covered in my classes, but I never turned in the assignments. My mind was screaming at me to stop, but I couldn’t do anything. It felt like I was suffocating. I knew that in order for my life to get better, I had to make a change. No. CHANGES!

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I cut out everything that was making me unhappy. I quit my crappy job. I stopped doing things that weren’t helping me. I started re-focusing on what I wanted and how I was going to achieve my goals.

As far as English, I took a SINGLE summer class. We met once a week for a few weeks, and I absolutely loved it. The professor showed us new ways to utilize technology in the classroom, and I actually READ the books we were assigned. It felt like I was cleaning a filthy window, and I could finally see!

I read and read and read over the summer, and fell in love again. This fall, I have a class on teaching literature, and I actually get to teach a REAL classroom of REAL students in a REAL school. By finally getting to experience and learn about what I want to do for the rest of my life, and it was AWESOME!

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So, for now, I’m back in love with English. I’ve stopped viewing it as a chore and started viewing it as a privilege. I took a break from it. Yes, it’s OK to not love it all the time! I didn’t know this so I’m telling you. It’s fine to not want to read every word ever written. It’s alright if you hate doing mindless assignments or even assignments at all. I learned that a rut is not the end of my life. There will be ruts throughout my life, but I will NOT allow them to stop me from doing what I want!

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After actually getting to do what made me excited again, I’m ready to tackle it head on. I’m not going to lie and say that I do all of my homework or do it with a smile, but I’m better. When I got to talk to students about why English is awesome, I was like- holy crap, I’m RIGHT!

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Getting to talk about and practice for a real classroom made everything seem real. I was no longer just learning the basics of driving, I was behind the wheel!

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Read these comic in their actual context and laugh your head off at: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/

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My Teaching Philosophy

For my education class, we have to come up with our philosophy on teaching.

The thing is the more I learn about being an educator, the more emotional I get. Sometimes I feel like I can’t wait to be a teacher, and other times I feel terrified to stand in front of my own class. It’s a HUGE job! And in a week or so I’ll begin my field experience where I go into a class and (hopefully) get to experience teaching some high school students. Or grade papers. Either way, I’m excited to learn!

I now have to think about what KIND of teacher I’ll be. Some days I feel like I’ll be this teacher:

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Other days I’m all:

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I’m hoping I can pave the road to teaching heaven with good intentions because there’s nothing I love more or am more passionate about.

SO here’s my official (for now) teaching philosophy:

I do not like to limit learning to one type of learning in a classroom. I am more of a non- traditionalist. I want my students to know that learning is constantly taking place and that exchanging ideas and experiencing new things and learning from other people is part of being educated. I think it is important for the teacher to give clear expectations to students so that students can rise to the occasion and become self-sufficient learners. Teachers should use discussion often in the classroom to help expand students’ knowledge and also allow the students to form critical thinking skills. I believe teachers must make an effort to get to know their students as individuals and their classes as a whole so that they can tailor their lessons accordingly. In order to best reach students, a teacher must do their best to be knowledgeable about their subject area, teaching techniques, and new technology. It’s important to always be learning and evolving so that students can follow that example. Teachers should be flexible, caring, and knowledgeable. Ultimately my goal as a teacher is to develop independent students who care about their world, are curious, and are critical thinkers. 

I’d like to hear from you about what you think makes a good or bad teacher. Maybe you could share your memories of your favorite/ least favorite teachers?