How do you get your students interested in learning about literature if they don't appear to care at all about what you're doing?
First of all, this is a crazy question because I've never met a student who wasn't interested in what I was teaching! Okay, I'm laughing about as hard as you are...we all know teenagers. There's three rules that I always try to follow in the classroom.
1) I make sure that the stuff I teach is what I love. I've taught some pretty awful stuff in the beginning (boo to The Red Badge of Courage and The Iliad). I didn't like the material and my students could tell that I didn't like it, so why should they bothering caring? I now try to pick literature that I love (such as The Crucible, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies). I have to teach these books 4-6 times a year, so I've learned how important it is to get excited and want to talk about the books. When I'm into a book, often my students will be too.
2) I get to know my students as individuals. I know it sounds simple, but there are teachers out there who just come to teach and don't really care about connecting to or learning about their students. I spend a lot of time at the start of the year discussing important issues, asking my students questions about what they're interested in and their lives. This lets my students know that I want them to do well. When my students know that I'm cheering for them and want them to do well, they seem to try harder in the classroom.
3) I try to connect everything we read to my students' lives. I think it's so important for my students to be able to relate to what we're reading and see pieces of themselves in the literature. This not only helps my students understand the relevancy in what they read but also allows them to place themselves in the characters' positions and gain empathy towards now situations.
Whew! I sound like I'm at a job interview. What about you? What do you think hooks a reader to "the classics?" What makes him/her want to keep reading books that they may feel removed from?