First encounters;Talkback;Opinion

1st May 1998 at 01:00
You'll never guess who's been helping me out with my Year 9. Leo. Or Mr DiCaprio as we prefer to call him. Our teaching has been transformed.

We do a brilliant bit of team teaching - I provide the textual analysis, Leo does the artistic direction. I'm the intellect, he's the inspiration.

As you can imagine, it's been a stunning success, and done loads for my street cred. the video of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet is now my most precious possession. People think that his performance in Titanic is the reason for the frenzy among 14-year-olds, but all English teachers know differently. He is required national reading. Do his PR people realise this coup? Are they aware that insinuating yourself into the national curriculum in Shakespeare is the best career move you could make?

I feel a strange kind of intimacy - we've taken on the challenge of Shakespeare and Year 9 love it. I've never had 100 per cent attendance and total punctuality for three consecutive days. It makes me remember why I love teaching.

Watching that video has also made me think about my own teaching. I have to face the truth that Year 9 would prefer Mr DiCaprio to me. What does Leonardo do in my lesson that I don't?

Perhaps Mr DiCaprio might consider giving his services to other Shakespeares. Perhaps he might even go cross-curricular and star in a few science experiments or geography field trips. We don't mind nude scenes either - they make a good discussion point and you can freeze frame them later in the staff room. He can share my desk in the staff room whenever he wants.

Gemma Warren is a PGCE student at London University's Institute of Education

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