Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

TSI Reflections: "Dive into the words with relish"

Gabriel Fernandez
Gabriel Fernandez

Before the 2014  Teaching Shakespeare Institute began, we did a couple blog posts with some reflections from TSI alumni from 2010 and 1991.

Now, with the 2014 TSI behind us but still fresh in our minds, we’d like to share another set of reflections from a TSI alum, Gabriel Fernandez, who participated in the 2012 program.

Gabriel teaches for the Upward Bound program for future first generation college students in San Antonio, TX, at Palo Alto College and is currently developing a Shakespeare program for Boystown in San Antonio and the Juvenile Corrections Center in San Antonio. He has taught at the high school level for five years.

Here are some of his answers to the questions we asked.

How did TSI change the way you teach?

TSI made me more perceptive of my students’ needs in regards to Shakespeare and more engaging as a teacher of his works. It also brought me closer to the eternal questions that he continues to ask of every generation.

Can you share a favorite memory from TSI?

The togetherness, the love, how we seemed to carry each other through our four weeks together will stay with me forever – and the acting (performing our individual skits as well as the longer group piece).

What’s been the most rewarding part of teaching Shakespeare?

Seeing students who realize the importance of the words, realize the beauty and the artistry inherent in the works, and realize that I am growing as much as they are in knowledge of the works and the truths of the human condition when we study Shakespeare.

Can you share a practical classroom tip or a favorite activity that you use for teaching Shakespeare?

To realize that Shakespeare is hard, and that students really do have a difficult time in encountering Shakespeare for the first time. A teacher has to make sure the students don’t give up and to search every possible activity in order to help them understand how Shakespeare puts a play into action, on the page as well as the stage.

What’s one piece of advice that you would share with English teachers who are teaching Shakespeare for the first time?

Dive into the words with relish, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes or errors with the text. No one is truly infallible. For every great argument there is an opposing great counterpoint. That’s Shakespeare.

Anything else that you’d like to share about your TSI experience?

TSI was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I fondly look back on with a merry heart full of cherished memories. Yet, most importantly, while TSI was very important for my growth as a teacher, the time I spent at the Folger was time dedicated to the growth of my students. They will grow through Shakespeare, and growth is one of the main themes of TSI.