My students were a captive audience. The first thing I needed to capture was their attention. Then I needed to sell like mad. First, myself, and then my product. My product was stories. The stories of great literature. But what 15 year old really wants to read “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare? A few maybe, but not your average 15 year old. Not the ones I first encountered at East Meadow High School on Long Island, New York. Especially not the girls! Teenaged girls 30-plus years ago were not too different than your average high school sophomore today. Hair and boys. In that order. How to capture that audience?
First, how to sell myself, short of showing up in a bikini (and I was pretty cute in those days)…but that would only interest the boys anyhow. The girls would be pissed off (who does she think she is anyway). So I told stories. Or asked them to tell stories. A good movie I had seen recently. A good T.V. show they had watched last night. Local gossip. World news (not that interesting to most of them). And then I went for my pitch about stories. What made a story interesting to read? What did an author have to do to get your attention? And before they knew what I was up to, I had them reading. Some of them told me that I was the only teacher to get them to read a book cover to cover.
If you thought this post was going to be about the two adorable Labs in the crate in the photo above….you just got taken in. Gotcha’ – and, have a happy day!