My name is Karen Richardson, but if a literary character I like to think of myself as Austen’s Miss Marianne Dashwood: extremist, emotional, and enthusiastic. I am studying Secondary English Education in hopes of teaching in a 9th or 10th grade English classroom. This year, I am oh-so-excited to teach, observe, and learn at Warhill High School under the guidance of Nicole Throckmorton.

While studying sociology at The University (kidding, kind of
J) as an undergraduate, I became increasingly aware of the social inequality plaguing our country along racial and socio-economic divides. Creating social equality through fair, passionate, and effective teaching will allow me to play a small part in making more widely accessible the “American Dream.” I have always loved kids, loved reading, loved writing, loved talking, and loved social interaction. I cannot wait to use my interests and strengths in English language and literature to foster the same in my students in order to realize education as the great equalizer.

My future classroom environment will be open and encouraging, stimulating and challenging. My classes will read Austen’s novels, Shakespeare’s plays, Hughes’ poetry, and Capote’s short stories to discourse on literary genre, theme, figurative devices, and authorial techniques. But moreover, my classes will move beyond predictive English curriculum that focuses on the formal aspects of the discipline, to instead use these works to explore social themes like gender norms, racial marginalization, political revolution, and individualization vs. conformity. I hope to create a classroom in which students are constantly, and enthusiastically, engaging in writing (analytically and creatively!), reading, discussion, and teaching to create real-world understandings of English.

My biggest hope is to make a difference in the life of every student I encounter. I hope to help students learn to think critically, prepare for a lifetime of written and oral communication, and embrace themselves as a student of English. I hope my students act in my class with an open mind and measurable effort; I hope my students leave my class with a better understanding of the world, their personal relationship to English, and a more personally defined value system.

My biggest fear is that I will not be able to reach some students. I fear the intense and undeniable failure of not getting through to a student who cannot pass the SOL test, who cannot graduate high school, who cannot succeed by many of contemporary society’s standards due to my ineptitude. I fear that I will run out of ideas, of energy, of effort, when I encounter students who struggle to learn. I am intensely afraid of failing my students and letting down myself. But, as Marianne would say, “that is what it ought to be.”

small_head.JPGPlease imagine this little head (mine) is posted on the face below (Marianne Dashwood, or Kate WInslett). I unfortunately had no idea how to accomplish this, which brings up my other fear that my computer un-savvy will impede my ability to attain a teaching license.