- Personal and Professional Growth
- Impact on Your Classroom, School & Community, and,
- Imagining the Future
During the month of August, we’ll share some of our Fellows’ Passports to get us all in the “Back to School” mode. Today, we’re proud to share the reflections of Jacqueline Catcher, teacher at Exeter High School in Exeter, NH.
Tour literary sites associated with famous British authors, including William Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, and Horace Walpole; examine the impact of Gothic architecture in the development of characterization and theme in Jane Eyre; and study canonical literature at the Oxbridge Teacher Seminar at the University of Cambridge to create differentiated and engaging learning for academic and AP English students.
Personal & Professional Growth
I am returning well equipped to integrate British literature, artwork, architecture, and history into all of my courses. I learned about unique ways to approach poetry analysis, which have students engaging in visual, auditory, and kinesthetic analysis. I can also see how various local museums, parks, and libraries offer unique opportunities for literary analysis based on these new techniques. This has been the most inspiring, exhilarating, and rewarding professional development I’ve ever had.
Oftentimes we teach art, history, and literature we’ve never actually seen. Now I am able to incorporate primary documents, pamphlets, photographs, books, and videos that I prepared throughout my trip and tailored to my lessons. I have photos of paintings and videos of interactive art installations that will help my students explore literary themes in unique mediums. I’m most excited to share the 3D and panoramic photos I took, so students can observe England as if they were actually there.
I challenged myself to create more adds-on units for traditional texts. I’m required to teach Shakespeare to my struggling readers, so I knew I wanted to build a Globe Theatre facade and host a night that would not only provide my students with an authentic audience, but it would also showcase their work. By collecting materials, visiting historic sites, and experiencing a performance in the actual Globe Theatre, I learned how to approach this project and production.
Impact on Your Classroom, School & Community
Students will read and discuss literature through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic methods that will engage them beyond the page. They will derive meaning from modern art, connect current historical and art exhibits to past literature, and think critically about how spaces and architecture frame both characters’ worlds as well as their own. They will visit England through photos and videos while at the same time physically constructing these spaces to share with their community.
I am collaborating with our school’s theater director to host a Shakespeare night. Our classes will work together to construct the facade of the Globe Theatre onstage and prepare a performance of various scenes, monologues, dances, and musical productions to honor Shakespeare’s work. In addition, I will also be collaborating with an educator from Pakistan who I met during my coursework. We are planning to lead short story discussion groups between our students via video chats.
Imagining the Future
I believe the best way to celebrate student learning is by providing authentic audiences, which push students to educate others beyond their peers. Our community Shakespeare night will allow students to prepare and present their research, analysis, and performances for our local community. Additionally, my AP Literature students will construct small dioramas that look at natural and architectural spaces’ impact on characterization in Jane Eyre. These will be on display in our school library.
Too often we dismiss older literature as antiquated or out-of-touch. What we fail to recognize is that the reason these plays, novels, or poems are deemed classics is because they explore universal themes that help us contemplate the world around us. Literature can’t be read or even analyzed in a vacuum though. It is deeply social, overlapping with other subjects and cultures. I hope students can help others see that literacy and literature is valuable to understanding everything.
Observing the world as both a traveler and a teacher provides a unique vantage point. You absorb, discuss, photograph, and document everything with more intensity, knowing that you aren’t just seeing these places for yourself, you are experiencing them for the hundreds of students who will pass through your classroom. I can only hope my fellowship will change my students’ outlook on poetry, literature, art, and architecture as much as this journey has changed my life as an educator.
Jacqueline teaches Freshman English and AP Literature, as well as pre-service teachers at the University of New Hampshire. She empowers students through independent reading and authentic writing experiences using a workshop model. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys serving as the vice president of the New Hampshire Council for Teachers of English and advisor of her school’s Government Club and Writer’s Club. See more of her fellowship and follow her on Twitter: