- Download PDF
How often do you change up the routine? Are there any books you think you will never get tired of teaching?
Mine are To Kill a Mockingbird and Ender's Game. Maybe the reason my students like them so much is because I do.
26 Answers | Add Yours
I can't imagine teaching AP Literature and not teaching Hamlet. Every year I find new joy in the complexity and nuances of this play. My students feel like such experts by the time we done. I have had more students write to me from their college experiences and say "Thank You!" for teaching Hamlet. I love watching the students with their tentative reading and interpretations in the first act become enthusiastic and ardent in their debates about Hamlet and everyone else in the end.
I feel very blessed in that I am able to teach any literature I choose, and I choose only works I love to teach. It's a win-win situation, since it's bound to be a better experience for students if the teacher loves the material. As we read, I never fail to see something new or gain a fresh insight or perspective, which is the icing on my tasty cake.
So, To Kill a Mockingbird just never grows old. I adore Cyrano de Bergerac (Hooker translation), and we read it as the finale in my AP class. The Crucible consistently elicits passionate responses even from the most apathetic readers. Ditto Lord of the Flies. While I love Grapes of Wrath and Jane Eyre, these typically get mixed reviews from kids--they love them or hate them. I've decided a strong response either way is success for me. At least they won't forget.
I agree with post #14 as I don't find myself ever "bored" with a text unless I have nothing left to learn from it. Texts that continue to intrigue and teach are truly those who merit classification of a classic (another posting discussion, I believe). Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Catcher in the Rye, and The Great Gatsby are novels rich in discussion. Every year student's individual "takes" and questions keep me on my toes and keep me interested in the work and message.
The only problem I have sometimes is that, from time to time, I get this ONE group who is either disengaged or plain dial-toneish and won't share my enthusiasm. Perhaps it is because it is often my late-nite group who wants to be home tending their families, or significant others, but I know we have a BLAST teaching Oscar Wilde each time I have to select a male student to play "the dandy" because they really overaccentuate the semi-effeminate tone and makes the class go by quicker.
I have to agree with the above post: It's not so much that I get tired of a book as that I want to try something new. I like to change at least one novel in my Introduction to Literature: Novel and Short Story each academic year, partly because I want to try something new and partly because I don't want to get tired of the books I teach.
My problem is that I love teaching new books, so although I don't get tired of teaching the same books, I crave different books. I do think that every "classic" book deserves re-reading and re-reading and has so many messages for us. However, having said this, after teaching Wuthering Heights to middle-aged women for 4 years I quite happily put that book away on my bookshelf to collect dust! I do like teaching a novel or play that I haven't taught for a while as it helps me to re-assess it and see it in a different light.
Generally after about three semesters I find myself tiring of the text. Thankfully, we are always flooded with salesmen trying to pass their wares. Sometimes we change it if we all can agree!!! That in itself is a feat. Honestly though, the mood of the class and interest shown by students has a great deal to do with this I think.
I find that I don't tire of teaching a text if I am still learning about it - which is where the students come in. I have found different perspectives on texts across social and cultural groups and in different countries. I have taught 'The Wave' in three schools and have learnt a lot about our school regimes and the students' personal values from this teaching. I have to say it was scary to try a mini version of the compliance experiment in a heavily oversubscribed and popular school and watch the class all comply with even my most ludicrous requests. It gave me more to discuss on the next teaching!
I can't say I ever get tired of teaching the same books, either. There is always something more to learn. What I really enjoy is honing and perfecting the lessons to make them more and more interesting to the students. (How many times have I looked at a previous lesson plan and exclaimed, "What the heck was I thinking!?!" LOL!) I really love having tried and tested activities and handouts that expand learning for everyone in the class (including me), . . . and when minor honing is done, . . . I can enjoy more of my OWN time. : )
I look at reading a complex work as I do watching a Quentin Tarantino movie...you have to read/watch it many times to get all the twists and turns. You don't truly know a work until you've spent time with it, and I love the different points of view new groups of students bring to a work I've been teaching for awhile. It makes the whole thing new again to me.
I've taught Othello for about thirty years, and I have yet to tire of it. I've taught Hamlet for perhaps fifteen years, and the same holds true. As others have said, I find new ideas, new motifs, new threads, and different aspects on which to focus every time I read these plays. My students' fresh perspectives contribute to these discoveries. I have also taught Faulkner's Light in August, Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Golding's Lord of the Flies, Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude multiple times. These works still fascinate me. But I had to give Hardy's Tess a rest after three years. Some I taught once and won't do again because I did not feel successful teaching them: Frankenstein, Crime and Punishment, Awakening, to name a few.
I also never tire of teaching the same books (or reading them for that matter). I believe that the more you read the book the better you understand it. I also find that I pick up on more things than I would have if I had only read it once. I also love to hear the spin that students put on the books as well.
I never tire of teaching To Kill a Mockingbird (or The Outsiders) and Ender's Game is also excellent, but I like to switch gears every few years. Historically, I have taught many different grades, often switching for 3-4 years consecutively, so flexibility in teaching novels has become a necessity. The longer you teach a specific novel, however, the more expert you become on the book.
I will never tire of To Kill a Mockingbird. But, I admit, there are books I like that I just can't quite sell to a kid like I can sell it to myself. For those types, if I have taught it 3 different years and can't find good lessons for it, if I can't make it fit my teaching style, I am ready to move on to a new level or school or set of novels for the school year. Fortunately, schools in today's age offer opportunity for schedules to change from year to year. It is often hard to change curriculum or supplemental novels, so when you need to move on, volunteer to try a new level!
I am a history teacher, but we nonetheless incorporate novels into our curriculum, including Of Mice and Men, Fools Crow andBless Me, Ultima. Books, for me, seem to have a 5 - 7 year shelf life in terms of my teaching interest, but the process of approving and purchasing new literature is so cumbersome and rare, I am usually stuck with a book for longer than that.
We’ve answered 319,688 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question