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Caleb Paull

Upper School English Teacher & Master Scheduler
B.A. English, Brown University
M.A. Language, Literacy and Culture, University of California, Berkeley
EdD. Language, Literacy and Culture, University of California, Berkeley

Teaching Philosophy

What is/are most important skill(s) you want to teach your students?

I want my students to better understand the art and craft of writing, both as readers of literature and as writers themselves. I want them to see that ways in which authors use language are not accidental, and that, by recognizing narrative choices, they can gain greater insight into how texts communicate with us, as well as developing deeper enjoyment as readers. As writers, I want them to develop the strategies and skills to overcome the fear of the blank page, to purposefully build arguments a step at a time, and to become more objective readers of their own writing. Beyond the specific skills one might expect in an English class, I also want my students to become independent problem solvers, not giving up or relying solely on the teacher when encountering something with which they struggle.

What teaching methods do you use to help accomplish those objectives?

I often connect texts for the course with other media with which the students are more comfortable or familiar in order to help them understand common themes and analyze the construction of messages. Movies, popular music, YouTube videos, and children’s books are some examples. I also approach the development and assessment of their understanding in multiple ways from the more traditional quizzes and papers to the less traditional competitive game shows and dramatic enactments. When they are working on a paper, we use a process writing approach. Students do a lot of pre-writing in class to help them get their ideas down in written form. They then work with me and with peers on revising what they have written and understanding that there is an audience to whom they are writing. To help them develop independence as learners, I give assignments involving various technologies which they must learn on their own, through communication with peers, and/or through finding online resources.

What is your favorite project or activity of the year?

I enjoy giving the students opportunities for creative projects that demonstrate their understanding, analysis, and expression. One of my favorites is an assignment that requires each student to create a board game that integrates visual representation of the text, organization around important themes, key quotations, and character analysis. An essential guideline for students doing this project is that the final product must be something I would want to use to help teach the text in the future.

What do you like best about teaching at Seven Hills?

The students and how they treat one another. I absolutely love these kids and continually marvel at their kindness. Much like in college, it seems that every kid can pursue his or her interests and find his or her niche. Time and again, I see students supporting one another, and this sort of maturity and respect in the classroom adds to the joy of teaching.