Early on the kids really struggle, but by Act IV and V, the light goes on for more kids and more frequently. When I stop to ask questions, there are more hands, so many that certain kids can't take the chance they won't be called on and just shout the answers out. I can literally feel these kids learning how to read Shakespeare. It's the kind of feeling teachers crave, it's our drug.
Every year there are students who get it more than others, and this year is no exception. One student in particular is damn near bringing me to tears. His name is Rene, and two years ago he didn't speak a word of English. When I ask what things mean, Rene does this little half raise of the hand, almost daring me not to notice him. I do, and he's always spot-on. Rene volunteers every time I assign roles, but I notice he's become partial to Friar Laurence. His English is heavily accented, but his voice is firm and loud, I can hear the pride as he reads these ancient lines of English.
As a teacher, it's very easy to be cynical these days, especially in Arizona. Reading Shakespeare with a kid like Rene is what this whole teaching gig is about.