As much as I enjoyed both of the amazing workshops I took this summer, I don’t think I would recommend doubling up like that to anyone. I’m finding more and more that dovetails as I work through my materials and try to put them to use, but even just the act of wading through and classifying all the information I’ve collected is daunting, to say the least.
This morning, I put together a three-page guide to peer review and revision for my juniors next year. It includes a page-long description/outline of what our peer review/conference days will be conducted, and what will be expected of them. It also includes a peer review worksheet, influenced by my training at Bard, plus a conference log for them to fill out before and during our one-on-one meetings, both of which will be required pieces of the final “packet” each student will submit to be graded. I think this will make a big difference in the work my students put into drafting and revising, and I’m hoping it will help our in-class work days be much more organized and productive. I also put together an oral presentation guide for all my classes and reorganized my website.
Earlier this week, I created two “guided writing” activities, one for Catcher in the Rye and another for Their Eyes Were Watching God, where the students will walk through a series of pre-writing and drafting steps before they create two pieces of writing, one being a scene from the book re-imagined from another character’s perspective (Catcher) and another a piece of creative “life writing” in the style of Zora Neale Hurston. I also tried to map out what my major assignments would be for each unit this year in English 9.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve also put together an essay writing guide and checklist for my ninth graders, a “study buddy” program document for my ninth graders, and an academic profile I’m going to have them fill out at the beginning of the year. Also for the ninth grade, I’ve made a “self-monitoring while reading” guide and chart, which I’ll be checking regularly for a grade. These ideas all came from the Schools Attuned workshop I did, and again, I think will be really helpful and useful, for me and the students.
I still have some major assignments to formulate, and a fair amount of lesson plans I want to create or revise. I want to be able to hit the ground running in the fall, but not leave too much piled up that needs to be done for the spring semester. I also need to go back through my Shakespeare Set Free: Teaching A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth, because my Macbethunit will be expanded next year, so I will have more room to be creative and add more activities/assignments. Finally, I still need to order myself a copy of Shakespeare Set Free: Teaching Hamlet and Henry IV Part I so that I can rethink my Hamlet unit. Finally, I also need to review our new English 9 summer reading book, which I’ve read before but not recently, and also The Best American Short Stories of the Century
a book we’re using for the first time in the English 11 curriculum, so I can choose what I want to teach from it in the fall.
Some of this work was generated by the workshops I went to, and some because we’ve chosen new texts. Of course, I am also doing this much work because I’m starting my third year of teaching English, not my thirteenth. But just looking at that list of completed tasks, and thinking of everything I still need to do, makes me feel overwhelmed.
This is why people always tell you that teaching is much harder than it looks.