Teaching Secondary English: Readings and Applications

By Daniel Sheridan | Go to book overview
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Joining the Profession


I promise I will give you no more advice about teaching. That job is for your instructor and for Robert Anderson who, in "Notes to My Daughter, the New English Teacher" (reprinted in this chapter), takes on the role of wise mentor. If you haven't been the recipient of this kind of advice already, let me congratulate and warn you: Like new parents, new teachers and student teachers are subjected to a lot of free advice. Everyone has something to say, but frequently people offer conflicting advice.

Take Anderson, for example. I see a lot of good sense in his remarks on teaching writing and his nonacademic pointers. But what is the big deal about the pronunciation of mischievous? And how are you to manage to get all your grading done at school? Few of the teachers in my acquaintance are able to do that.

On the whole, however, Anderson is a good stand-in for the role of mentor. He seems to know what he is talking about, as do the veteran teachers whose reflections on their first year of teaching follow Anderson's advice in this chapter. There is wisdom in these stories, though it does not usually take the form of overt advice. It is as if they are saying: "Here is what it was like for me. This is what it might be like for you." So as you read these stories, you should consider some of the themes they have in common.

Themes like "being overwhelmed." They were, all of them, overwhelmed by their first teaching assignments, but none more so than


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Teaching Secondary English: Readings and Applications


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