In 2020, around 42,000 English language and literature degrees were awarded in the United States. All of these graduates then went on to search for a suitable profession. However, there are already 1.48 million such graduates in the workforce. Thus, the question arises – where do the new ones fit in?
Teaching is the most common profession for English graduates, especially in high schools. While that’s an opportunity you can look into, it’s also a lot of competition for you to deal with. Therefore, you need to stand out.
You can be an amazing high school literature teacher, but you need to think about the job in a different way than your peers do.
The traditional model of teaching has been that you walk into the classroom, tell students which book they’ll read, and then discuss it at length with them until they’re ready for their next assignment. However, if you want to be more effective in helping your students develop as readers and writers, there are some things you need to do differently.
Here’s how you can become a better high school literature teacher and develop your students as better readers and writers:
Carefully Select Books for Reading Lists
The first step in creating a great literature classroom is to carefully and thoughtfully select the books that you will be reading with your students. The best way to do this is by choosing books that are relevant, interesting, appropriate, and age-appropriate for your class. You can also collaborate with other teachers at your school who teach the same subject matter.
In case of books you want to add but haven’t read yourself, you can go through their summaries online. The summaries by SweetStudy can help you in this regard. The homework assistance platform has several such summaries that will help you grasp the true essence of the books. That way, you don’t have to read the entire book before suggesting it to your students.
Give Students a Chance to Explore Their Own Reading Interests
There’s no need to force students into reading the classics if they don’t want to. Let them choose the book they want to read, and allow them the freedom to explore their own literary worlds.
Similarly, let students choose what they want to write about in response or analysis. They might feel more engaged if they choose a topic that interests them instead of being forced into doing something that doesn’t make sense for them personally or professionally.
Allow your students opportunities for choice when it comes time for presentations as well, whether it’s through PowerPoint presentations or just making things up on stage. It will help them explore their personal reading interests and develop new ones as well.
Ask the Right Questions
Asking the right questions is an important part of being a literature teacher. Asking the wrong questions can be counterproductive and make your students feel like you’re just trying to get them to agree with you.
Instead, ask questions that engage students, and help them learn and think critically about what they’re reading. While it’s okay to stick with one question while reading a text, try not to focus on one particular point of view throughout each lesson. Instead, try asking different types of questions each time to get a better picture of how everyone is thinking about the text.
Encourage Students to Lead Their Own Discussions and Presentations
Teachers should not dominate classroom discussions. While it is the teacher’s role to facilitate discussion and guide students through the process of examining evidence, they should not dominate the conversation. Instead, encourage students to share their opinions and ask questions.
Students can often bring up important points that you may have overlooked or forgotten about during your planning for that day’s lesson. Ensure that these students are allowed to share them with your class.
Create Writing Assignments That Matter
The most important way you can make your writing class more effective is to create assignments that help students learn about the world, themselves, other people, and how to communicate.
Include multiple types of writing in your curriculum. Your students should be required to write a variety of letters and emails. They should also work on formal essays that analyze literature and should try to write poetry or fiction as well as memoirs or personal essays.
Make the Most of Your Library
The library is an important part of your class. A good book can be a great way to connect with students and spark their interest in reading, but it also has some other benefits. The richer your high school library is, the more chances of your students growing interested in reading. Thus, let them explore their reading interests in the library. You can rest assured that everyone will find something that they personally enjoy.
English grads earn an average yearly salary of $76,603. However, most teachers earn within the $60,000 – $65,000 range. Unless you stand out as an extraordinary high school literature teacher, you might not be able to earn that much. This is also something you should consider when you decide to become a top-class literature teacher.
Following these tips will inspire you to be a better high school literature teacher. Remember that the most important part of teaching is always going to be your enthusiasm for your subject matter. Your love for reading and writing will shine through in every aspect of your classroom, from choosing books for your students to leading discussions about them. Thus, don’t forget to act on these tips, and you’ll witness yourself become a better literature teacher.