Category Archives: Teaching

Ten years from now

I love my job most of the time. This year is especially sweet because I have such a nice crop of students. At the same time is it stressful because of the silly changes coming in education, the intense focus on test scores at the cost of almost everything else, and the coming reality that student performance will be tied to my paycheck. I refuse to spend much time worrying about that. Like every year I am trying new things, reading the latest research about what works, and keeping the ball rolling in English class for 88 students. It’s fun in some ways, a drudge in others, yet I am proud of the work I do.

But how much longer will I love it? Will I still be doing the same thing in ten years? I doubt it, but it could happen. I confess, I’ve never been into over-managing my own life. I’ve talked with a few colleagues about starting a charter school, but I’m not sure I have the energy. I know I’ll begin the transition to teaching college level classes this spring and perhaps a full-time college position is in my future. Only the Lord knows. And that’s okay with me.

So, where do I see myself in ten years? Hanging out with some grandchildren every chance I get. Spending more time writing each day, gardening, loving life. Truthfully, I don’t spend much time looking that far forward. It is as pointless as spending time looking back. This week and next keep me pretty busy.

My verse for today: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

This is day two of the 30 day Blogging Challenge.


Once more into the breach

It’s hard to believe the last post was only a week ago. When I think about how I was feeling then, all that I still had to accomplish, and the huge unknown of all those students, it seems distant, even though we’re now only four school days into the year. Last week I began getting to know my students. It is a fun process. With my lower grades we went through several activities that asked students to examine personal voice through their roles in life. Then they explained the words they say in the role to a classmate, who interviewed them and delivered a short oral introduction. This weekend two classes of the four will be writing an essay to introduce themselves in the voice of a parent or guardian. The other two will write it tomorrow or the next day. Getting started is tricky, particularly this year when there have been so many changes and assemblies, so two classes are behind. No matter, we have time to work together now. But the first thing is to get their buy-in. I think I may have already begun to do so with some of them. One of the foundational ideas I must get across is that I see them as individuals. With this group, it will be easy to do this. I’ve taken most of their pictures and begun a database in my phone. I’ve learned most of their names–just a few left–and I know that counts for something. So far, they are charming. Well-behaved (mostly), willing, and ready to learn, what teacher could ask for more?

And me? Well, I just love the classroom. I’m not where I want to be just yet, meaning I still have to get more things written down, get my website approved, and the plans I’ve been thinking about fleshed out, but I think I’ve made a good start. This year will be wonderful for one reason. I am working with a much larger portion of my brain than I did last year. Because of a disintegrating disk in my lumbar spine, my life last year was mostly governed by pain management. And that meant pain meds. After a successful fusion surgery on June 14, I am not completely free of the need for meds, but I take only a small percentage of what was necessary to get through the day last year. Hallelujah! I can think again!

Thank you, God for a good surgeon and a chance to share Your love yet again.  And thank you for these lovely students!

Of course I’m nervous

Tomorrow the students return to school. I’ll have 53 freshman (in three sections), 16 sophomores from our tech academy, and 14 “college” students, who are actually seniors in a Dual Enrollment class. I am excited to be teaching both ends of what our school has to offer me at once. My curriculum is going to be heavy in grammar in all levels, and doing that in fun, measurable ways is going to be a challenge. The theme for my underclassmen year is “English by the Numbers.” We’ll be paying attention to the numbers in the Comp 101, too, but not in the same way.

I’m going to ask students to measure the time they read, and the number of pages they read each reading session. They will also graph how many days they read each week. That might be all for reading. Perhaps they should graph how much they enjoyed each book? How long it took them to read it? Those might make the list.

For writing we’ll be using the heck of the the six traits rubric. They’ll be asked to score themselves first. They’ll be asked to score many pieces they write and graph the results.

There will be numbers, numbers, numbers. Will I survive it? That remains to be seen. But tomorrow will be the start. The we-can-do-this-together day. I have to try to sleep. Your prayers appreciated.