New Year, New Challenges

I realized, while I was putting forth my earlier argument for foolish optimism, that I am looking forward to the new school year.  It’s a new year, a clean slate, and there are always changes!

For one thing, my teaching load was cut in half this year.  Teaching electives is wonderful in many ways; the most obvious, of course, is that the students are there because they have chosen the course and thus are ready to learn something about the subject.  There are downsides too, though, and a big one is the lack of consistency.  In addition, high school girls are not known for their intellectual gravity; they will take Jewelry Design and Forensic Biology and whatever else they see glamorized in the media. And finally, my school’s system of course design and selection is about as archaic and irresponsible as I can imagine.  Basically, anyone can design any course if people are willing to take it, and if not enough people sign up for it, it just won’t run that year.

But I've had a summer to be reconciled with the current state of affairs, and I'm planning to make the best of it.  I still have two classes in which to corrupt enlighten young minds: SAT Prep, is the first, now in its fifth year.  I will revise and update, of course, and this year I vow to make better notes so I can improve my lesson plans as I go.

The other course I’m teaching is Journalism, which involves the production of the school newspaper.  I’m really looking forward to it.  Tmatt has been kind enough to give me some core teaching points, and I have some ideas about how to structure the class, but I'll be learning as I go, much as I have done for my whole career.  I think it's the best way to learn to teach.  If your plans are too rigid, you'll never be able to reach your students where they are.

Despite my high expectations, my main goal for this school year is actually to dial down the workload.  After our beloved principal was reassigned last spring, I mentioned to her that I'd never had a formal review in my four years there.  She was appalled, and instead of trying to arrange a haphazard one at the last minute, simply told me that she was quite pleased with my teaching and had never seen a reason to interfere with it.  As something for me to think about, she mentioned that there was a tendency among teachers of electives to make their courses too involved; really, electives should be lighter courses, but generally you teach the electives that interest you a great deal, so you assume everyone else is just as interested and wants to work as hard as you do.  She never told me I was one of the culprits, but I know I am.  I just can't understand why anyone wouldn't love school as much as me.

So, this year -- take it easy, Mrs. Lowe.  The students will thank you.