Language Arts

Being an effective teacher is not always an easy thing to do. In an effort to learn more about effective teaching, namely effectively teaching literacy in a Language Arts classroom, I have been in correspondence with two of my favorite high school teachers. Both had unique teaching styles and both taught in distinct classrooms and schools; I chose one who teaches in a large public school while the other teaches in a small college preparatory school.

Some of the issues we talked about included classroom climate, text features, and how, as an ELA teacher, to successfully cover such a broad area of learning.

Here are some key points we touched upon in our correspondences:

  • Classroom climate is important no matter what you are teaching! If students feel hassled they don't learn as well. If students feel uncomfortable, they don't learn as well. If you make things fun and interesting, students learn and remember things better and longer.
  • Mini-units on usage errors as an ELA teacher are great! They hold the students' attention well and are often times more successful than trying to teach an overwhelming amount of information at once.
  • The best way to learn is to make mistakes, and learn from them! Encourage risk taking in your classroom along with an open environment.
  • Teaching LIFE through literature is one of the best ways to engage a class. It makes literature seem less removed or artificial.
  • One of best way to teach spelling, writing, grammar is through writing assignments. It means a lot of tedious corrections for you, the teacher, but it allows exploration of ideas, development of thought, and crafting of a skill which is necessary above and beyond school.
  • Find balance in your classroom: a balance of control and freedom, a balance between "play" and "work" or, try to make work seem like play.
  • Building a relationship with students, based on trust, is the key to a classroom community which is the most conducive for learning.

All these things promote literacy in a language arts classroom or almost any classroom for that matter; literacy is effected by so many things, not just text features. As a teacher, it is our responsibility to teach and promote literacy in our classrooms and, as I have come to realize, that creating a safe comfortable community is one of the best possible ways to do this.

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