Those Who Can, Teach

Brand-new assistant professor Joseph M. Shosh taught in the real world before he came to Moravian. Having learned to teach right here as an undergraduate English major (Class of ’88), he spent 12 years at Freedom High School in Bethlehem. In his final year there, he got to teach senior Advanced Placement English (British literature) and a drama seminar. “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” he said.

In 1996, he became an adjunct instructor of education at Moravian, and he realized something new: “There were these beliefs that I had about how English should be taught.” This led him to start a doctoral program at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education. By 2000, he had given up the high school job and become a full-time instructor at the College. Last month, he received his Ph.D., which gained him a promotion to assistant professor and appointment as director of the Master’s in Education Program in Curriculum and Instruction.

His dissertation has the daunting title of “Coming to Know: A Transactional Approach to Teaching and Learning in an English Language Arts Methods Seminar.”

He translated (sort of): “I explored the observed and reported experiences of undergraduate English majors as they learned to teach when curriculum is negotiated, distributed, situated, constructed, developmental, and affective.”

“Of course,” he added, “that may obscure more than it enlightens . . . My committee sure would have preferred less verbosity!”

Shosh’s first love is drama. At Freedom High, he produced plays ranging from Shakespeare to Sweeney Todd, as well as a Moravian/Freedom High collaboration of Cabaret. And though the dissertation—with the research, interviews, and supervising of student teachers that went into it— has kept him away from production in recent years, he enjoys taking his students on field trips to places such as Stratford-on-Avon and to see visiting theater companies at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

He also shepherds them to conferences, such as that of the National Council of Teachers of English, November 18-19 in Baltimore, at which one of his former students, first-year teacher Elizabeth Benner ’01, joined him in a presentation on constructivist teaching in the language arts classroom. The students also got to meet one of their gurus, Jim Burke, author of The English Teacher’s Companion, the text for Shosh’s course in English-teaching methods.

Those methods seem to be working. Of the students pictured with him at the NCTE conference: Traupman is teaching at Liberty High School, Reiss at Freedom High School, Benner in the Tupelhocken Area School District, Gray at Nazareth Area Middle School, and Warren at Annapolis High School in Maryland.

The holiday break saw him, briefly, at ease. “ I actually took time to rest up and read just for me, which was wonderful,” he said.

January 15, 2002

Purloined Letters
Student plagiarism on the rise at Moravian, as on college campuses all over the US. First of two parts
Those Who Can, Teach
Profile of asst. professor of education Joseph M. Shosh
Farewell (and Hello)
Staff members Lujean Baab and Melanie Vollman leave; Melanie's replacement
The Dream Remembered
Moravian's Martin Luther King Jr. Day program
Prized People
Winners of the annual support staff awards
Faculty/staff achievement)
Events calendar
All-campus announcements
Now Hear This!
New rules/regs in effect on campus as of Jan. 1