Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Teaching Flexibility

For Monday, I assigned eight poems by Sharon Olds. The plan was to allow students to write independently on one poem, then come together as a group to discuss the poems. I figured we'd get in-depth on two or three of the poems, with a few student comments and a lot of my explanations. I thought we could manage this in the 50 minute class period.

We've now had two such 50 minute class periods. We've covered seven of the poems. And I keep pushing material back on the schedule.

I'm thrilled with this. The class is so talkative, and so many students are willing and able to share real insights and ideas, that we're taking more time than planned on each particular poem. And that's fantastic. That we're discussing each poem in such detail, and that so many students themselves are providing the interpretations, means we're covering the literature as it should be. If I have to keep pushing back material to the point some stuff gets cut, so be it. I'd rather cover fewer works with greater thoroughness than move quickly over a lot of works. Students will provide more to the class, and get more out of the class.

It's been an encouraging start to the semester.

1 comment:

  1. My lit teacher has the same philosophy. On the first day he told us that we probably won't get to everything because of the reasons you stated. I like it better that way. It's been three weeks and we've done Wordsworth and Coleridge. He spends the entire 50 minute period talking about one poem.