Saturday, October 31, 2015

Struggling to Reach the Surface

Not to be a downer (or drowner, as the case may be), but I'm struggling.  I'm sure I'm not the only one, especially if you teach English like I do.  I'm (hopefully not vainly) trying to break the surface of that which is grading.  

I'm SO far behind.  With my own school, where I often spend the weekends, or at least Sunday, getting most of my work done, and trying out the passion project, and planning, and making sure I'm not sitting at my desk when I'm being a "guide on the side", and getting my 10,000 steps in Monday-Friday (20 pounds lost, woot), I'm never really making any significant progress in filling my lungs with the oxygen that is being completely caught up.

Only in teaching do you contemplate taking a day off in order to do more work.  I'm not going to do it because I already know I'll be pulled from the classroom two days in a row in November, and at least one in December.

Speaking of that, as a teacher that uses tech in the classroom, planning for subs is that much harder.  And, planning for subs is a major pain without the added issue of tech.  I don't feel comfortable putting the Chromebooks in the hands of a sub, so I often have to figure out how to do something the "old-fashioned" way, or do a one off lesson.  Any other techy teachers want to talk subs with me?

I had an epiphany moment with the Passion Project this week.  We started the presentations of our proposals.  It took a lot longer than I thought, but we also had a shorter class period than normal, so we'll continue this Friday.  I had borrowed the template from Kevin Brookhouser after reading his book on 20 Time in the classroom, but my students (many of them) were confused by it.  So, I simplified it a bit and changed it for next year (again, that must mean I'm planning to try this crazy ride again) by changing it to have a more clear objective that has an impact on at least one other person.  I've also decided (damn, that 20/20 hindsight) to create a screencast explaining the proposal for next year.

The proposals presentations were enlightening.  I learned, that of course, there is a group of 5, despite the fact I told them both verbally and in writing that they could only have 4 people per group (*sigh*), and that some kids are unbelievably selfish (but only some kids).  I'm quite impressed with the ideas some of my students have.  Here are a  few ideas that stood out to me:

  • two students are going to work together to inspire people with their passion for music, which will hopefully culminate in a performance of an original song.
  • three students want to give turtles to children in hospitals for companions.
  • numerous students want to do something to help the homeless
  • one student wants to educate people on the culture and languages of the indigenous Mexican tribes so they don't become lost
  • one girl wants to do henna tattoos for people who have lost their hair

With the Passion Project just about every Friday, I'm "behind" where I should be according to the curriculum map.  I guess it's a good thing I only use that as a guide and have decided to take the time my students and I need (or try to at least, that's another struggle) to work through the content regardless of time.  

I am still on To Kill a Mockingbird with my 10th-grade honors students.  We've finished reading the book, but there is so much I can still do with it.  I feel the push to get done and started on the Poe unit, but I'm not going to.  I'm going to give it a few more weeks (especially since it looks like testing will get in the way one week) and take Poe to the end of the semester.

My 11th grade PLC wants to have The Crucible done before Winter Break.  Yeah, doubt that is going to happen for me.  We haven't even started it yet.  We finish Romanticism next week, and that is with taking out Transcendentalism.

I wonder how much time I would get back if all the testing went away?

Speaking of my 11th grade.  I had them go through "The Raven" and mark all the words and phrases that contributed to the mood, then had them type the words into a wordle (which doesn't work on Chrome by the way, had to switch to Firefox).  Check out their wordles below.

1 comment:

  1. I am so proud of you Mindy, you really rock as teacher and a person. Love your commitment. Hang in will get caught up.