As a follow-up to Mark Miazga’s fabulous story about his teaching epiphany, we invited you, our readers, to share revelations from your classrooms, and… wow! You and your students blew us away! Here’s what you had to say:
My epiphany came when I realized that getting students to act and move would impact them so much more deeply than merely reading. Handing over control to my students became a scary but exhilarating experience as they took the reins and directed their own scenes from The Scottish Play! Over 30 students last February took to the stage at a coffeehouse, performing in front of one hundred peers, family members, and teachers making our annual Shakespeare Festival the best one yet! I am continually amazed by the creativity and daring that students display when given support, freedom, and high expectations.
- James Sheridan, Texas
My epiphany came about fifteen years ago when I was teaching at a local alternative school. My senior class was filled with gang members, pregnant girls, drug users, and high school students trying to straighten out their lives. It was spring and we had just finished reading Julius Caesar, when one of my senior boys asked me “What else did that Shakespeare dude write? This sounds just like what goes on in the Crips… all the backstabbing and stuff…” He went on to say he had thought it would be boring, but it ended up being one of the few things he ever read and got into. When he graduated, I gave him a copy of the complete works. I will never forget that moment or a certain young man with sagging pants and tattoos.
- Susan Griffin, Oklahoma
This fall I worked with a home-school family doing the mechanicals scenes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After performing it as rehearsed, the family, consisting of 5 boys ranging in age from 11-14, decided to adapt the scenes for a holiday show. They kept the Bard’s language but changed the characters from Mechanicals to Elves; and Bottom’s transformation from an Ass to the Grinch. It worked extremely well and I realized they “got it!”
- Donna Stone, Illinois
After discussing iambic pentameter in my 7th/8th grade humanities class, I assigned a sonnet project to my students and told them that anything could be the subject. Knowing this would stretch them, I hoped for the best. I was completely astounded by the results; deep, touching, and sometimes hilarious, every student rose to the challenge and handed in an amazing work. Middle school kids CAN write sonnets!
- Annie Nardone, Virginia