I teach in the English department at the Engineering and Science University Magnet School, which comprises grades 6-12. Students at my school have rigorous STEM criteria that must be met for graduation, and every year they participate in competitive engineering and science events. With such a heavy emphasis placed on the STEM subjects, I feel the need to design my instruction in such a way that students see the humanities as equally important to their other core classes. Often, English is the only non-STEM class that my students have in a day, and I want them to see this as an opportunity for organic discussion and self-expression that may not be as available in their other academic courses. Furthermore, my school has implemented a variety of strategies to increase socioemotional learning across all classes, in order to cultivate an atmosphere of respect and healthy communication. Consequently, one of the consistent underlying goals of my classroom is to foster empathy and community among my students.
Additionally, it is important to note that male students in my school outnumber female students substantially in all grades. Of the total population of my school in 2020, male students made up 68%, while female students made up 32%. Racial demographics are also important to consider: the student population in my school is predominantly non-white, which is necessary to keep in mind when selecting texts for use in the classroom. In recent years, my school has made a conscious effort to incorporate an increasing number of texts that represent a variety of cultural voices, which we feel is a crucial step in engaging students whose identities are underrepresented in the traditional literary canon.