Learn something new!
Note: This is the third of five daily posts on how to spark, reignite, and maintain your passion for ELA. Click here for yesterday’s post: Reignite Your Passion for ELA Part 1 of 5: Wear Your Reading Passion.
Other than my first year of teaching, the 2021-2022 school year was my most challenging. Out of eleven years of teaching both middle school and high school, students were more disengaged and more disinterested in literature, writing, and school in general, than ever before. It was tough.
There’s nothing worse than trying to get a discussion going when students won’t talk… not even to each other, let alone in a whole-class conversation.
This happened so many times last year, it was disheartening.
But guess what?
I still had to keep teaching.
To do that, I had to be excited about each and every day’s lesson. Fortunately, I love my content area. It’s amazingly cool to be able to work full-time sharing awesome literature with students and helping them express themselves through writing.
But when you’re in the trenches of mid-October or, worse yet, mid-January, I know how hard it can be to stay excited, positive, and optimistic in the classroom so your students can benefit from that joy.
So just for you, I’m posting a few tried-and-true ways that help me stay passionate and excited about my content. I’ll be sharing these ideas over the next week as the beginning of school approaches. And yes, I think you’ll find some of them a little unusual, but they work for me and keep me interested in learning more about my content.
So, without further ado, here’s my third way to reignite your passion for ELA:
Learn something new!
I recently took advantage of JSTOR’s pandemic-inspired deal of one hundred free articles to read online per month. I spent an afternoon digging around for articles on The Great Gatsby.
I was searching for articles about Fitzgerald’s use and treatment of Meyer Wolfsheim for this post, and also stumbled upon an article that revealed an idea TOTALLY NEW to me… that Gatsby’s last business dealings might have been as a conspirator in the real-life Teapot Dome Scandal.
This is the scandal that Tom Buchanan badgered Jay about in Chapter 7 at the Plaza Hotel suite. Y’know, to the point where Jay lost his control and, by the way, Daisy, too? Read this post here.
This revelation sparked new insights for me about my favorite novel. Sure, it’s all speculation, but the author presented a compelling argument that reinvigorated my curiosity and reminded me why I love The Great Gatsby (and my content, and therefore, my job) so much: there’s always something new to consider on every reading. Thanks, JSTOR!
Now I know this might sound like work to you… to be researching and reading even more than you already do. And yes, you’ve got a point, but that’s why it’s so important to research and read up on a topic, an author, a genre, or a novel that YOU personally can “nerd out” on.
Think of it as permission to indulge yourself in whatever literary love you naturally possess.
I guarantee that allowing yourself to “nerd out” and explore your original love of literature will reinvigorate yourself for the year ahead. Or, if it’s deep in the middle of the semester and you’re in need of some relief, give yourself permission to jump the tracks and investigate something you normally wouldn’t have time to investigate.
The new information you discover will restore your excitement, spark your curiosity, and reignite your love for your content.
And finally… share what you’ve learned with your students. Allow them to witness your excitement and see your love of learning in action. They’ll be inspired by your enthusiasm and as the old saying goes, “Enthusiasm is contagious!”
Enjoy the energetic vibes that your newfound knowledge lends to your teaching and classroom environment!
Thanks for reading! I believe it IS really helpful to let myself learn something new. As you know, it actually happens on its own quite naturally during the course of teaching, but every once in a while, I stumble upon a new idea — either on my own or when I jump down the JSTOR rabbit hole — and it’s so refreshing when I take the time to research, read, enjoy, and share my new knowledge.
Have you learned something new and personally exciting lately about a favorite author or book? Leave a comment in a reply below or leave a message on my Contact page.
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