My mother taught me to always plan meals while I’m hungry: if it sounds good then, it will sound good while you’re fixing dinner. (She also taught me never to grocery shop while hungry. Anyone who has done this can attest to the wisdom of her advice.)
I’ve been remembering this for the last week as I plan out the school year. It’s a light one in some respects: I only have three classes, and every other day I only stay for an hour. In others, it’s much heavier: my classes are 20+ students each, where my former average was half that. And I have seminars, observations and portfolio sessions to schedule as I prepare for my graduation and certification in the spring. In reality, it’s probably just another year — the comfort of routine buttressed by the intoxicating pleasure of a fresh start from scratch.
Every morning I awake eager to organize time, weigh assignments and measure out the calendar. It’s the sort of task that ordinarily makes my skin crawl, but this time of year, when the evening air is heavy and cool and the crickets lend their muted tones to the symphony of fluttering keys and shuffling papers on the other side of the wall, it just makes me hungry for more.
My Big Idea this time around? Quarter syllabi — to ensure an even number of points in each term, a lack of overlapping assignments and clarity from the get-go regarding due dates. My inspiration was my own professor, the one who taught my summer class: her extraordinary organization was such a gift that it made me want to pay it forward to my own students.