Tutor profile: Ben K.
What makes an essay make sense?
Most essays, most writing if we think more abstractly, is about making an argument. The argument may be explicit, as in an argumentative essay or op-ed, or it may be oblique, for example the way a novel like the The Grapes of Wrath argues for the basic humanity of even the poorest among us. The key to writing which makes sense to others is to guide a reader through your logic. Writing must build upon itself, from presenting an agreed upon premise to then building on that premise piece by piece, slowly and clearly enough that the reader can understand each piece and how it relates to the agreed upon premise. The editing process, which every writer should engage in, should be a critical reading of what you have written in which you question if there is a leap a reader can't follow.
Why read literature? Why read The Great Gatsby (or any other canonical novel)?
Literature provides a window of understanding, both into ourselves and others. There are a number of critical approaches to reading literature, but the most meaningful for most people is to approach literature as an ethnographer. In other words, literature serves as an immersion into different thoughts, cultures, and worldviews. Even contemporary literature about you own culture pushes you to consider that culture through a critical lens. Literature lend itself to allow others to better understand the world around them, and both their reaction to the world and the world's reaction to them. The Great Gatsby is a perfect example of this, as reading the novel critically leads to insights into the class system in America, the supposed corroding effects of wealth, the ways in which people with different backgrounds can fail to understand each other and how damaging this can ultimately be.
What are steps one can take to effectively manage the classroom?
Engage and engage with students. Engaging students would include varying activities from lesson to lesson, while still providing a solid framework so that students know what to expect when they arrive; it is also beneficial to individualize lesson's to student interests as much as possible (a student who is invested in what they are doing is much less likely to act out). Engaging with students could be as simple as greeting them and asking how they are doing as they enter the classroom, to techniques that may seem counter-intuitive like allowing your classes establish as a group what they feel exceptions for the class and behavior should be. For example, you can make respecting others a nonnegotiable rule of your classroom, and then ask students to establish what that means for their class. Rules are more easily reinforced if students feel like they have a degree of control. The first step to classroom management should be to ensure you are meeting student's needs (as defined in Bloom's Hierarchy of Needs), as student's who have their needs met and are intrinsically motivated to learn cause far fewer behavioral issues.
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