Not too much time to blog lately. I feel like I'm working 14-hour days these days, every day, if not more; I'm at school until at least 5 or 6 and then I'm home to sit at my computer and plan. It feels good -- this year, so far, I am really liking these kids -- but I cannot maintain this pace. Part of the issue is that I spend plenty of moments wasting time or energy. My classroom gets horribly messy, for example, by the end of the day and it's probably because I haven't worked out the systems that I need to work out to avoid spending so much time picking up at the end of the day.
Still, this shouldn't be a negative post, because, despite the work, the year feels like it's going to be a great one. The 9th graders are a somewhat tough group, but they are wonderful, earnest little sponges that really want to do well. I am trying plenty of new things with them this year -- Daily Grammar Practice that I write myself, using sentences from the literature, with a follow-up analysis questions as our daily drill; beginning the year linking Persepolis and Fences and a Humanities unit about how trauma creates character; weekly timed writings and (purposeful) silent sustained reading time. Our 9th grade team has two new teachers, as well as the department head and an administrator-type, so we are working together as a team more than I ever had. It's slightly more stressful this way, worrying that everyone is basically doing the same thing every day, and trying to differentiate instruction for different kids in the classes, but the reflection that comes with working with skilled educators and being able to articulate that with new educators has been valuable.
With my seniors, we are jumping right into James Baldwin right now, and he's become one of my favorite writers to teach. It's only my second year teaching his non-fiction, but the kids connect with it right away, as his writing is just so powerful and moving. One of my favorite assignments this unit will be to have the students write a personal essay in the style of James Baldwin.
So... great first couple of weeks. I really need to reboot this weekend, but I'm working the Ukrainian Festival tomorrow, schilling pierogies, and again on Sunday night at the restaurant. Oh well. The Tuesday off-day will be nice. Busy busy.
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