Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

Peggy Says: Thoughts from Folger Education's Director

In the rush of the holiday season, our director of education, Peggy O’Brien, pauses to offer these reflections, looking back at NCTE 2013 and ahead to a bright future!

On the Folger’s presence at NCTE…

  • What a thrill to be in the midst of so many English teachers!  What possibly could be better? It’s so good to be home.
  • We always want what we bring to NCTE—our sessions, offerings at the booth, materials—to be as useful to teachers as they can possibly be. People packed the sessions, many have followed up on email for more info… yes!
  • Next year, NCTE is in DC! Or, more accurately, just outside of DC. We’ll present at the conference, but we also want LOADS of teachers to come to the Folger… see a play, hang out with some rare books and manuscripts, participate in hands-on, active workshops in the Folger Theatre, and more.
  • Lots of folks interested in the Folger appsOthello, Romeo, and Macbeth.  The techie way to plunge students (and teachers) right into the play. Hamlet and the Dream out before the end of 2013. Add these to the formats the Folger already offers: wonderfully edited plays available in paperback books (as they have been for ages) and free online versions in the Folger Digital Texts (www.folgerdigitaltexts.org). Love it!
  • So happy to be distributing our new Folger Philosophy of Teaching and Learning. The philosophy’s not new, but the articulation is. It’s good to have our foundation in print.

On next week’s master class…

  • Gearing up for our Master Class on Dec. 11: Our “teacher on the street” videography team—Lauren Chavey and Beth O’Brien—asking teachers at NCTE about their greatest successes and challenges teaching R+J. Got such compelling, splendid answers.  Teaser:  With a particularly tough ninth grade class, using Marvin Gaye to get everybody into the play. Big success story!

On great teachers and educators…

  • Such a treat and a relief to be among folks who are talking passionately about good teaching, rather than the politics of the Common Core. Obviously, policy is important, but… great teaching is what really makes it all happen.
  • Met Jim Burke, whom I have described many times as in “the Mount Rushmore of English teachers.” He’s great and so are his new books on the Common Core—they are just based on solid, excellent teaching.  Perfect.
  • Big shout out to Eileen Landay and the Arts Literacy Project that she founded at Brown University… and her mention of the evidence provided by neuroscience that points to the difference between reading vs. reading and doing.

On the Folger’s Romeo and Juliet flash mob…

  • THE FOLGER FLASH MOBFABULOUS!  150+ people in the cold, in the dark, in the plaza next to the Convention Center—Boston at 6pm on a Saturday night—all having the time of their lives doing the balcony scene. Now for our big question: What collaborative, public Shakespeare do we do at NCTE next year?

Peggy O’Brien is the Director of Education at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Follow her on Twitter at @obrienfolger or send her an email at pobrien@folger.edu.