Begle coaching empathy through literature


Varshitha Korrapolu

CHS9 English teacher Erin Begle assists CHS9 student Sriya Meduri with English I STAAR EOC practice questions during third period on Wednesday. Begle started teaching at CHS9 this school year and the CHS9 student council recognized her as February teacher of the month.

Yaamini Jois, Staff Writer

Behind all of CHS9 English teacher Erin Begle’s lessons lie lessons of empathy, from daily check-ins to character analysis.

Begle was honored as student council’s teacher of the month in February and believes in fostering an environment of care and compassion in her classes, often teaching required literature from an angle of empathy. She encourages her students to put themselves in the characters’ shoes and apply their stories to peers and friends who may be going through similar situations.

Before joining the CHS9 faculty this school year, Begle taught English I and English IV for five years at Irving MacArthur High School and coached softball and volleyball at MacArthur. This year, Beagle teaches English I on-level and English I Honors. 

Who inspired you to teach?

I wouldn’t have gone into the field of teaching without support from my high school teacher in Clear Brook High School in Houston, Patricia Jones, who taught me AP Language and Composition. She was a phenomenal teacher. She was wicked smart and gave us feedback on our papers the same or next day we wrote them. She gave us tons of advice in writing, which I enjoyed a lot. I can still remember some of the days when we were reading in her class, or when we focused on a specific text, and I could feel just how passionate she was about what we were reading. After my first two semesters of college at the University of Dallas, I talked to her about wanting to go into teaching, and she gave me advice. She told me, “Having the heart is more important than having the brain.” 

What does the recognition of Teacher of the Month from the student council mean to you?

It means so much to me. Everybody had such a hard year with the pandemic, and we continued to struggle after as well. It’s nice to know that students appreciate the work we put in for them. It’s easy to forget who you’re doing all the work for, whether it’s staying up late grading or coming in early to make sure all the lesson plans run smoothly. It means the world to be recognized.

What are some special activities or values in your class?

This year, I’ve prioritized making sure my students know they are people first. If a student is not doing well emotionally, we know they will not do well academically. We have an activity called ‘roses and thorns’ as a check-in, where we ask students to talk about things that are going well for them and things that are not going well for them in life and school. 

What is your favorite part about teaching English I?

I love the literature that we study. In class, we’ve gotten to do so many things this year, but I think empathy is what makes people people. I believe that empathy is the best teacher, and we get to practice that skill anytime we engage with another author’s writing. For example, by reading Romeo and Juliet, students gain more compassion for people facing similar situations in love and learn to understand each other when they make strange decisions at this age. In To Kill a Mockingbird, students see examples of racial prejudice, which gives students the opportunity to be more aware of what’s going on around them and practice their empathy. 

How has your first year of teaching at CHS9 gone so far?

There were definitely some adjustments to be made, but they’ve all been good adjustments. CHS9 is smaller than MacArthur. The staff is very close and it almost feels like a small town school experience. Getting to know everyone, from the staff to the students, has been a great experience. For my students, I want them to know that what they put into high school will reflect what they get out of it. Coppell High School is a much larger school than CHS9, so students will truly have to put themselves out there and find where they fit in to pursue their academic goals and passions. 

What are your plans for the class for the rest of this academic year?

We have our nonfiction unit coming up, and I’m excited for it. We’ll get to look at what is going on in the world right now, and how authors present that information. We’ll also get to do some poetry that we haven’t been able to do yet, so it’ll be fun for us to look at the ‘puzzle pieces’ that poets use to put their art together. 

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