Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

Office Hours? Thanks in advance for your advice . . . .

Last December, we led a Master Class on teaching Romeo and Juliet, streamed live from the public television studio we have tucked inside our building.  Six hundred of you joined us, asked questions and made comments on the air, and lit up the chat box during the hour.  A whole bunch of you were kind enough to participate in the survey that we sent you the following day.  In the course of your feedback, several of you suggested that the Folger hold office hours on a regular basis  . . . and on Twitter.

We loved the office hours idea!  For the last few months, we’ve done that–but for sure we don’t have the hang of it yet.  So we’re asking you to help us get this right. . . because that’s how we roll here.  We don’t ever plan anything without input and advice from teachers.

First, a reality check:  office hours for an hour or two on a monthly basis . . . overall a good idea?  If it is, then I’m gonna keep on asking:

  • What time of day, and which day, is best for you?
  • Is Twitter the best medium?  Our notion was to give quick answers and then follow up with  more detailed info in a blog entry that’s posted the following week.  Does that make sense to you?
  • What would make you want to show up at office hours?
  • Should office hours be on topics of your choosing, or should that be on us?  “January’s office hours: Teaching Macbeth
  • Should we schedule topics way in advance?
  • What other good ideas should we be having about this that we’re not?

Answer in the comments section and straighten us out.  Thanks.  Help.


  • Many Twitter “chats’ happen in the evening or on the weekends. During the school day, doesn’t work as well for me. Plus with the different time zones, the West Coast is only halfway through the school day. The important part is for every message to contain the same hashtag so the chat is easy to search for. While some chats set up an hour where people can interact, others can be ongoing and just continue throughout the week. I like the idea of having a specific topic that teachers can choose to discuss for say an evening or a week. I think a month may be a bit long.

    There is an English chat that I follow, but don’t always participate in. They sent out a tweet 2-3 days in advance announcing what the topic will be for the week and what time people can plan to be on. They usually get a nice group of teachers being interactive, and then others can read everything later by following the hashtags. An example would #FEMacbeth (short for Folger Education Macbeth). If I type in #FEMacbeth, I could see all of the tweets from the conversation even if it was two months later.

  • I would definitely participate if I could do so at night after the house is mostly asleep. 8pm? 9pm? And perhaps the office hours could be open. Or “problem-based”? Teachers could bring their problems to be worked on by the group.

  • I have thoroughly enjoyed the two #folgerofficehours that I was able to be a part of. Twitter is usually the beginning of a conversation, and I really appreciate how @FolgerED took additional time to continue our dialogue through their “Making a Scene” blog.


    I understand that @FolgerED can’t respond to all inquiries, but this form of interaction really takes learning Shakespeare to the next level. I hope that my most recent comment that seeks to further my understanding of iambic pentameter will be addressed at some point, so that I can pass on why Shakespeare strays from 10 syllables at times.

    As for what would make me want to attend, I believe that taking more universal topics that are not specific to one play would be the way to go. For example, an office hour on the bard’s life would be helpful, as his biography is taught in so many different ways. Other topics that would apply to multiple plays is a discussion of Shakespeare’s use of “the play within a play,” “bathos,” “antithesis,” or “soliloquy.” The office hours should not only be driven by content, but by process as well. Pedagogy is so important when teaching Shakespeare, and @FolgerED has such great resources that could be illuminated through the office hours as well.

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