7 Reasons I Can Tell My Students Why English/Language Arts Class is Important
Yes - you’re out there on the front lines, defending yourself and your job from all sides. No - not from your administration. No - not from Chat-GPT. From your students!
Be sure to share these 7 reasons why your English/Language Arts class is so important to your students (other than to see your smiling face each and every day).
Let’s face it. In the fast-paced world of digital technology, we are communicating more and more with each other every day over a variety of mediums. You name it: email, text, social media - even yelling around the corner to your students to arrive in class on time. Communication skills seem like they are at an all-time low when they should actually be the best they’ve ever been based on the plethora of opportunities we have to practice them.
Make sure your students know they have the opportunity to grow in both written and verbal communication in your class through a variety of activities. Journaling, essay writing, classroom debates - the list can go on. And make sure your students know these skills can be put to use not just in the future, but immediately. Need a raise in your allowance? Want a later curfew? With a polished presentation that clearly conveys what they want, students can further their interests simply by leveraging the communication skills they are honing in your class. Need you say more?
The ability to read, think, and then write critically about a topic is important today more than ever. We are constantly bombarded with news and information on a daily basis (some real, some fake, some slanted one way, some slanted the other). The ability to form an opinion or decision of one’s own will be a critical (pun intended) skill throughout life. Every single student will face challenging moments when they need to make decisions, whether they are large ones or small ones, and the critical thinking skills, sharpened and honed in your ELA classroom, are essential for students to figure out their best paths forward.
It’s important for teachers to remind students that stories can take them places all over the world to learn about cultures they may never have the opportunity to experience. Have a student that wants to visit the Middle East or Asia? Recommend a good book that centers around stories from one of those regions. If you can’t immerse yourself geographically in another culture, why not experience it through reading? And who knows - after exposing your students to books that interest or inspire them, you may even have some students who choose to visit the very places they’ve read about one day!
Proficiency in skills practiced in your ELA classroom - reading, writing, speaking, thinking critically - builds an excellent foundation upon which students can advance their careers. Sure, a variety of factors can play into career advancement, but these skills are definitely building blocks for working alongside others. Whether it’s writing resumes and filling out applications in the beginning stages of job hunting to working alongside a fellow worker or collaboratively with a colleague on a corporate project, there is a direct connection between the skills learned in your ELA classroom and the tasks your students will be doing in the workplace. Help them understand there’s no better time to practice them than now - regardless of their grade level.
Skills learned in your English/Language Arts class go well beyond the concrete strategies used by students to find success in their careers. Reading a broad range of literature and practicing daily journaling or creative writing can provide students with opportunities for self-discovery, self-reflection, and self-expression. Even if students do not write bestselling novels, they will still reap the lifelong benefits of having an outlet from which to escape the stressors of the real world. It’s important for students to know that expressing oneself creatively and thinking outside the proverbial box is a lifelong endeavor that reaches well beyond the world of academics.
What’s a better way to put the skills you’re learning in your ELA class to immediate use than to become involved in your local community. Whether you're writing a letter to your local legislator or volunteering on behalf of an organization, the written and oral skills that students gain from your Language Arts class are essential in their becoming effective, active citizens in the community. And let’s get really local while we’re on the topic. Do your students see something in the school that needs changing? Why not have them write an email to the principal about it? What a great way to showcase the talents your students are acquiring in your own classroom.
The learning experiences you are creating in your ELA classroom will far surpass your students' academic lives, so remind your students that you are setting them on a path to learn and grow throughout their entire lives, not just in your classroom. All it takes is one great book, one collaborative project, or one piece of writing to help them fall in love with reading, writing, and creating - the things they will pursue throughout the continuum of their lives. As a teacher, remind yourself to be that persistent spark in class everyday that will hopefully ignite a love within your students that will instill a lifelong desire to learn and grow beyond the classroom walls.
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