After reading some of the posts by my friend and colleague, Brianna Crowley, over at Red Pen Confessions about her blog challenge from TeachThought.com I thought I should give it a try as well. So here’s to Day 1!
Day 1: Write your goals for the school year. Be as specific or abstract as you like.
1. Build the day-to-day lessons, materials, and whatnot for the new Science Fiction Literature class. The curriculum is written, but as any teacher knows… the curriculum is just a guide. Each teacher molds the individual lessons to his/her personality, skills, and knowledge with an understanding of the students in the room. So Science Fiction Lit. is off and running as it’s September 17 as I write this. We’ve completed the first introductory unit. Unit two explores the relationship between humanity and our technology.
Science Fiction is a semester course, so I’ll have a second shot before the year is over to add to or adjust any lessons or materials that didn’t work as well as I would have liked.
2. Not lose my mind during disjointed and poorly organized presentations by students, guidance, administration(yippie! professional development!). This is a tough one. I’m a patient person. When a student presents a project poorly, I’m disappointed. The effort and focus just wasn’t there. The repercussion for the student? A lower grade.
Today as I write this section two members of the guidance department are in presenting college info for a group of seniors. This presentation is a blunt instrument causing only dread and boredom. The kids are asleep with their eyes open. Quote of the day during a slide presentation, “I’m going backwards. I just realized that.” Groan. Consequence for this farce? Nothing.
When administration presents something to the staff it can go a few ways. 1. We can understand and buy in. 2. We can understand and have the reaction, “meh.” 3. We can understand and hate the idea, information, or the initiative. 4. We can be confused, ask questions and get them cogently answered(then back to #1, 2, 3). 5. We can be confused, ask questions and not get them cogently answered. With number 5, the room is likely to disintegrate into beldam and discord. Whatever goodwill and amity had been established… melts away like a late spring dusting of snow. Repercussion? Almost nothing. The administrative “team” as well as staff see who is competent and who is not.
3. Be more reflective and write about my reflections. I think all the time. Sometimes I think that is the source of my various bouts with insomnia. I find it difficult to switch off. I certainly don’t think about teaching all day and all night–I’d worry about my sanity if I did. That said, I do find myself contemplating how things went in class that day, how it’ll go tomorrow, what I want to change, etc.
When I began teaching I wrote out everything I was going to say in my lesson. It was a dry run. I imagined the room, what I would say, what questions the students would have, my answers and so on. It helped me to test out my lessons. It was, however, horribly time consuming. Today after a decade of teaching, I can plan and visualize lessons much, much more quickly.
So while I think a great deal about my teaching, I don’t write about it that often. So I’m starting with the blog challenge.
4. Get back into watercolor painting. While this isn’t a school related, I have learned that being in a good state of mind–refreshed and creative–with interests outside of teaching help my teaching. If I feel like I’m working in a factory or am on a treadmill(wasn’t I just here?) going no where… then my teaching and energy suffers.
I like watercolor painting for a couple reasons. It is challenging. Watercolor requires planning as there is no “undo” button and fixing mistakes is very difficult for a novice like me. It requires focus and discipline. I’m not an abstract artist. If I look at a piece of art and think, “hold on, I could do that,” I’m not impressed. So most abstract art is very underwhelming to me.
I like working from a photograph(one I found or one of my own) because my gut feeling about what is good/bad in art isn’t especially developed. Realistic art also appeals to me more. Or to be more accurate… impressionistic art. Starting from reality…giving a sense of emotion to the shapes and colors themselves…that is very impressive to me.
So I’d like to get back into making watercolors. Each painting below took me about 3 hours(most of it was thinking and planning or waiting for the various layers of color to dry before going on to the next).