I am not sure if anyone has had the pleasure of watching someone teach Shakespeare (or indeed anything) before, but its a really great experience. I have seen, and heard anecdotes, of teachers doing amazing things with Shakespeare’s work, with all the bells and whistles of engagement. What I haven’t seen before was an unapologetic approach to teaching that actually forced students to rise to the challenge, equally wonderful. For all the engagement that dressing as Horatio may bring, or watching 10 Things I Hate About You, it also doesn’t necessarily give the challenging opportunities that students can thrive on.
The balancing act is nigh on impossible to manage, though. On the one hand, you want the students to extract meaning from every aspect of the play, on the other, we would prefer they did so within the 12 years of schooling they are afforded. Teaching is very much in this moment, how much do you offer? How long do you give the students to answer? How do you explain that a student has not caught the point that you intended? These are key measurable aspects of teaching that we can use to set goals for, based on research or previous professional practice.
“My goal is to give 5 minutes thinking time after each act”
“My goal is to allow a couple of seconds after each answer to allow the student to feel that I am considering their response”
“I only want to talk for 10% of this lesson”.
Without doubt, this is what colleagues are all about, to have someone who can share the experiences of the class, who can reflect on what they saw, is essential for developing professional practice.
Its just that its the hardest part about teaching sometimes… Letting people in, and letting people help you.