I got a random e-mail from "a future high school English teacher" looking for advice, I guess. This is how I responded.
> Hello Professor Schenck, [I'm an instructor]
> I'm currently working towards becoming a high school English teacher for the fall of 2006. In an effort to better prepare my students for college, I am sending out the below few questions to
> instructors currently teaching undergraduate courses at the collegiate level like yours at the University of Arizona. If you could please answer the three questions below and return them to me
> within the next two to three weeks, I'd greatly appreciate it.
> 1. What academic skills do your students need in order to be successful in your course?
The first thing is analytical skills (what's sometimes called "critical thinking"), next the ability to communicate clearly in writing (this includes grammar, sentence structure, paragraphs that develop an idea, among others), then the ability to work well with other students (for peer review and group presentations). So overall, my successful students have the ability to talk about ideas on the page and in person with fellow students and me, the instructor.
> 2. Which of any of these academic skills are they lacking when they take your course?
I do have some bright students who come to my class prepared well in the different aspects I seek to develop. Students come to my class with some mastery with analysis, written communication, and working with people and developing ideas. But I think my class--in-class and out--is sort of like practice where students improve both their strengths and weaknesses over the course of the semester.
If I could have my way, which I won't, I'd have students be more precise writers in language and punctuation/grammar, and have them be more "into" or prepared for analysis.
> 3. What advice would you give someone entering his first year of teaching high school English?
I've not taught high school, but I assume that teaching is very similar at every level. Develop rapport with students, but keep focus on their learning (this will require you to hold onto your classroom authority). Know your stuff and expect the students to know theirs. And manage your time so that you can have morale as the semester goes on.
University of Arizona English dept.
> Thank you very much for your time. My desire is to make sure I prepare my students for your classes and their lives beyond the classroom.
--Help your students be thinkers and able to appreciate the intricacies of life itself. That's all a teacher can do, in the end, I think.
> My very best regards,