Teaching Shakespeare in 29 Easy Steps

Teaching Shakespeare doesn’t have to end like Hamlet… but it might…

teaching shakespeare

Reading Shakespeare is not easy. Teaching Shakespeare to a bunch of middle or high school students who would rather be reading their Snapchat feed is much harder.

But don’t worry! Thou art capable. Follow these 29 steps exactly to teach Shakespeare and get the full experience.

 

1. Begin the selection process

To begin, or to watch another episode of Stranger Things: that is the question.

 

2. Vow not to choose Romeo and Juliet

Because teenaged students don’t need any more relationship drama, and I don’t really care wherefore art Romeo is.

 

3. Get pumped about the play you’ve chosen

Joy delights in selecting a play.

 

4. Then doubt yourself, imagining your students’ reactions

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt reading.

 

5. Sacrifice nights creating the best. Shakespeare. Unit. EVER.

Be not afraid!

 

6. Wake up the morning your Shakespeare unit begins

Thou art excited! Thou art prepared!

 

7. Hear students groan as you announce the play

Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to learning.

 

8. Attempt to create “cool factor” by referring to the world’s most renowned playwright as Bill Shakes

He’s like the OG rapper, nahmsayin?

 

9. Fail.

 

10. Attempt to create “cool factor” by explaining the mystery surrounding the man

Everything you thought you knew is a lie!

 

11. Fail.

 

12. Attempt to create “cool factor” by spoiling the ending

It’s like Game of Thrones! Everyone dies.

 

13. Achieve moderate interest

 

14. Remind students that No-Fear Shakespeare isn’t an option

Something is rotten in the state of my classroom.

 

15. Introduce iambic pentameter for what feels like the millionth time in your career

Tired with all these, for restful summer break I cry.

 

16. Get asked if we really have to read Shakespeare

Now is the unit of our discontent.

 

17. Assign reading roles to the students you can still find

A conspicuous quantity of absentees doth sense I.

 

18. Remind readers to cut it with the dramatic “Shakespearean” accents and three-octave higher “women’s” voices

The Oscar nominations are in. And sorry kids, you didn’t make the cut.

 

19. Giggle at a joke that went over everyone else’s heads

Bill, you devil, you.

 

20. Field a question about the only line in the entire play that you’re not sure about

Ummm, I’m the teacher here, I want to hear your interpretation.

 

21. Listen as a student completely misinterprets the line you do know

Lord, what fools these students be!

 

22. Dissect a single line for longer than expected because Shakespeare is that deep

And your students are that determined to waste time until the bell rings.

 

23. Show a clip of the play

You’re tired, let a movie do the talking.  Plays are really meant to be watched.

 

 

24. Tell your class that they will be performing scenes

Suddenly not so into those accents anymore, I see?

 

25. Hear a student claim that Shakespeare doesn’t matter

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless student!

 

26. Begin impassioned speech about how Shakespeare held a mirror up to nature, perfectly captured human emotion, etc.

Get you some Will power!

 

27. Start to believe yourself

To me, fair Bill, you never can be old.

 

28. Become more determined than ever to impart your love of Shakespeare on to your students

All things are ready, if our minds be so.

 

29. Watch your class begin to understand and appreciate Shakespeare

And scene.

 

Congratulations! You’ve survived your Shakespeare unit. Until next year!

 

Posted by Michael Kokias

Michael is an Editorial Intern for weareteachers.com and a Junior English major at Saint Joseph's University. He loves to read (as every English major must) and run (because, sadly, it's not healthy to sit around and read books all day).

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