In my English classes, I hope my students find value in the poems we read, power in the pages of the novels we study, and smoothness and strength in their own written words, but most of all, I hope they find comfort. I don’t mean comfort of the soft and sentimental kind – the kind that says to students that English class will always be easy and pleasurable – but comfort, rather, of the brave and well-built kind. After all, the word derives from the Latin word meaning “with strength”, suggesting that true comfort comes in the form of an influx of power rather than approval, of confidence rather than commiseration. I want my students to be comfortable in my classroom in the same way they might be comfortable on a mountain trek – because they know they have the power to perform the necessary actions. If I bring comfort to the students, it means I make them understand that they have more might and merit than they ever thought possible. It means I make them feel the forces present inside them, which in turn comforts them with the knowledge of their own power. Being comfortable in English class doesn’t mean the students loosen up and relax and let things happen as they will. On the contrary, it means making sure their real power is presented to their classmates, their teacher, and their world in as poised and positive a manner as possible.
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