While I’m not doing any formal workshops this summer, I’m still developing a lengthy list of summer projects for myself, which range from formalizing a list of classroom policies for my fall students to developing assignments for the new elective I’ll be teaching next spring. In addition to these kinds of practical matters, I try to always assign myself summer reading that will help me think about some bigger-picture aspects of my profession as well. Some of my favorite past choices included Teach Like a Champion, Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements and I Read It But I Don’t Get It. Each of these books has informed my teaching in different and concrete ways.
This summer, the front-runners seem to be Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom by bell hooks and Imagine: How Creativity Works, which touch on two critical areas that are more abstract as far as pedagogy, but no less important.
I’m thinking I may also go back and revisit some of my past choices, as I’m making some bigger changes to my ninth grade curriculum and shuffling the books into a new sequence, in addition to this new elective. I’ve got a few lessons and assignments I need to rework, and a few new ideas I want to map out for myself in preparation for executing them next year for the first time. I’ve also got some books to review that I’ll be teaching next spring.
I’m looking forward to digging into this kind of reflective work, free from the daily grind of grading and meetings and all the necessary mechanics of making a school run. While it’s lovely to be able to work on my own schedule (and even poolside, if I choose to), it’s also mentally refreshing to be able to step back and think deeper about what I do, why I do it, and how I could do it better.