This summer, in addition to taking envigorating Masters in the Art of Teaching classes, I did a lot of reading of some of the masters of my discipline: Carol Jago, Jim Burke, Kelly Gallagher. Their ideas both humbled and inspired me. I thought about how fresh I would feel coming back into the school year, armed with all these great ideas. I even allowed myself to believe I could someday write my own book about the teaching of English - something again to Jago's ...In the Classroom series (which, so far, have boasted Alice Walker in the Classroom, Nikki Giovanni In the Classroom, Langston Hughes..., Sandra Cisneros..., and Julie Ann Cofer...). Mine would be Ernest Gaines or James Baldwin, two of my favorites to teach.
Alas, I'm getting off track. Armed with all these fresh ideas, I felt so ready. Yet, I feel myself slipping into old habits. Over the weekend I poured my heart into a unit for Death and the Maiden for my juniors that I think is one of the better documents I've created as a teacher. At the same time, for my sophomores, I assigned the same at-home questions for reading Of Mice and Men that I have before, every year. The unit is solid, but my day-to-day activities will probably get to be rote by the end of the week.
I've forgotten nearly everything I read over the summer now that I'm embroiled in the marathon school year. There's very little time for reflection (in fact, you're pretty much seeing it every night - that's what blogging does for me, lets me have the little bit of reflection that I get every day). I feel like I'm too busy to really do much else. I've got 173 students this year, and the grading load is significant, and I don't really feel like I know any of them yet. It's a stressful place to be in, especially when it feels like the lessons aren't as inspired as they could be. All I know is that this year I am working very hard, but not very efficiently.
Here in Baltimore, they use the schools as polling places on Election Day, so there is no school tomorrow. I'm still going to head into my classroom and try to bang out a few hours of grading and planning. That will make me feel better about things. Right now, after a decidedly mediocre day, I'm in need of that.
East Notes: Braves, Brignac, Cabrera - After the team's loss of Eric O'Flaherty to injury, the Braves appear likely to trade for a lefty reliever before the trade deadline, writes David O'Brien of...
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