How to Teach: English is an incredible resource: innovative, cleverly and clearly structured, and written with the genuine aim of helping practitioners in the classroom, regardless of how long they have been teaching.
The text itself is a huge support, offering simple yet hugely effective strategies to aid teachers in delivering difficult and dense curriculum content in a way which is both manageable and clear. Not only this, but the methods explored by Chris are suitable for all year groups, meaning teachers can establish routines with their classes that extend through multiple academic years in terms of how knowledge and skills are approached in lessons.
Chris explores the everyday issues of the English teacher and makes the complex, simple. For example, the -˜Words, words, words' method for exploring a writer's use of language has been hugely beneficial in helping my weaker students consider and develop alternative viewpoints and include multiple interpretations in a critical essay. This is not an easy achievement for some -“ and yet by using this strategy, the impact on students' learning, evidenced by the marks they are now earning in their exams, has been quite staggering. This, of course, has been followed by a huge increase in confidence amongst students. Not only this, but the methods and resources contained within the book are unique: they offer an extremely appealing alternative to ideas that are revisited year in, year out. Curtis' -˜decluttered analysis', for example, allows students to deal with the important parts of a literature text easily whilst ensuring they do not receive a -˜diminished diet' of knowledge in their English lessons.-¯
How to Teach: English has saved me copious amounts of time. With the increased rigour of the new GCSE specification, English teachers are faced with the challenge of delivering demanding content in a way which students can pick up quickly and easily. As a result, planning time has increased dramatically, but this book supports teachers in finding the solution. Presented with chapters on teaching Shakespeare, writing, poetry, novels and non-fiction, English practitioners have something at their fingertips which is quite powerful: a compendium of ideas that allow them to navigate the challenges of the curriculum. Not only has this supported me in delivering content to my classes regardless of their ability, but also feel imbued with much more confidence and feel that I deliver strong lessons, benefitting pupils to become better students of English. The methods in How to Teach: English are adaptable for different contexts and as a department; we really feel as if our lessons are enhanced because of the approaches we have adopted from the book.
It is no exaggeration to say that the vast majority of my lessons now contain at least one method from How to Teach: English. It is a book that has supported my planning and the planning of my department -“ and, as a result, it's a title that has invigorated my students through how I'm teaching the content. I've experienced increased -˜buy in' from more reluctant students and from those who struggle.
It is, put simply, my -˜English teacher bible'. No fads. No gimmicks. A wonderful resource and something that will influence my teaching practice for years to come.