I could not allow the month of July to lapse without posting at least one more time, especially considering I’ve only posted one other time this month!
The school year is fast approaching. For some of my educator friends, they are already wrapping up a week of pre-planning because the kiddos come into their schoolhouse next week. My pre-planning week starts Monday. Still, I’ve been at my school every day this week attending meetings, preparing lessons, and getting used to a whole new set of expectations this year.
After all, this year will be different. I will be balancing a new administrative role, teaching 9th grade language arts, taking my comprehensive exams, and writing a dissertation. While I certainly have those sudden feelings that I might be in over my head, I am more excited than any other feeling coursing through me. Inside today’s post, I look ahead to my new role and how I’m approaching my classroom as well as sharing a preview of something quite extraordinary forming this fall.
Earlier this summer I revealed I am my school’s academy coach. Do not worry if you have no clue what that means. I am still figuring that out myself. At its core, the position empowers me to build authentic learning opportunities for the students in the school. The academy model our school is using focuses on career AND college readiness, so starting last year we began partnering with local businesses to create learning opportunities with students in each academy. My role as an academy coach is to be a liason for our school and these businesses, while overseeing the growth of project-based, authentic learning in our classrooms. I have mentioned before when reflecting that I do not have a strong inclination to be an administrator, so this role is possibly as close as I will come. What I am looking forward to is I will able to train teachers and still work with students daily, and I get to forego most of the administrative duties that I know unequivocally would drain the life out of me. That being said this new role will take up A LOT of my time. I’ll spend most days in meetings, in other classrooms, talking to businesses, presenting, or instructing. I will also spend a lot of time writing emails and answering them as well as bobbing and weaving through school political minefields. (I am going to have to lose some weight!) I will learn a great deal about myself this year both as an educator and a person. I am ready to learn; I am ready to grow even if it is in unexpected ways.
While taking on this position, I will still be teaching as well. Given, my class load has gone down significantly. I am only teaching one 90 minute block class every other day. I am thankful to still be in the classroom. I am not ready to leave it completely, and selfishly, I need a class to complete my research for my doctorate. What I know is I love my job as a teacher; what I do not know is if I will love my new position. Staying connected to what I love will keep me sane–I hope. What is exciting about my classroom this year is I am planning my “units” and activities using an organized folder system in Google Drive. My students and their parents will have access to these folders, which will house instructions, examples, and readings. While block scheduling (another big change this year) cuts down on face-to-face time with students, the every-other-day meeting style will allow me to be more pointed about what I teach and how I teach it. My goals this year are to really teach writing as a design and reflective process, to make poetry and argumentation on-going and pervasive components to the class year round, partnering literature with the human experience to build a critical worldview in my students, and to have pervasive and on-going, authentic writing and reading experiences that support their career and college interests.
I am hoping to accomplish these goals in various ways. First, my students will only write two major papers each semester. Each major writing will go through extensive revision and editing before it is deemed ‘publishable’. Each major writing will also have an intentional audience that is not just me. My approach to major readings will focus three major pieces of literature (with the exception of a series of short stories) each semester where critical reflection and problem solving will be the focus. Poetry and and argumentation will find themselves popping up in class daily. I have developed a calendar that alternates days that open with poetry or with some form of argument. What is most exciting, however, is my push to have my students write independently and reading more independently. To do this students will have the option of writing with me on this blog as a contributor, a class blog, a zine, or possibly another authentic writing opportunity they find on their own. For reading, students will have the choice to read novels or to follow blogs–both will require reflective writing and discussion. And as alluded to a moment ago, yes, zines will be a big part of the classroom dynamic year round as well.
To me it sounds like an exciting and challenging year.
As we enter the fall semester, a few of my doctoral cohort friends have been scheming a way to stay connected as we each move into what can be a very lonely dissertation process. While I cannot say much now, I do want to give everyone a heads up that in a few weeks I will be making a big announcement. If you are a regular reader of the blog, trust me, you will love what is being cooked up. Stay tuned.