Already Thinking About School

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We had barely celebrated Independence Day when the Back to School circulars began appearing in the Sunday paper. While I know some regions of the country start classes in early-to-mid-August, for the rest of us, it feels like we just finished school so are shocked to consider the new school year is already upon us.The reality, of course, is that we have until August 18 before teachers report back in Baltimore County and classes won’t officially begin until August 27. Today is the 29th day of our summer break, just under the halfway mark so there’s still plenty of time to relax and recharge.But, as I am discovering among my peers, we’re never really done with school. We receive periodic notes from our department chair or school administration. The school inbox periodically fills with odds and ends, including some questions from students. My mind is also never far from ideas for next year or things I know I need to do better.Last week I had a half-day professional development class that was all about assessment which gave me some fresh perspectives and recognize yet another in a growing list of thigns I know I want to do better with next year. In fact, everything feels geared to making my second year a far better one than the first. The jitters are gone; the experience has settled in and been absorbed, the advice and guidance has been processed.With a good chunk of the first unit figured out for the 11th graders, I have some idea of how 10th grade will begin but need to spend some more time reading through the curriculum and materials. It’s Creative Writing, though, which is preoccupying me now. It’s a somewhat amorphous curriculum in comparison with English and apparently I am being given some freedom. As a result, I have been consulting other district syllabi and sifting through them to determine how they approach the work. One take away so far is that they all emphasize fiction and poetry and some do personal narrative or creative nonfiction. None, so far, seem to tackle play writing, or writing for the screen or even graphic novels. Given how visual our students are, I think that’s a mistake and one I will attempt to address.  On the one hand, I’m excited about a class full of kids who chose to be there and on the other, having not taught this before, there are the usual butterflies.What’s clear through is that I’m increasingly turning my thoughts from my freelance writing to school planning, proving my peers correct (again) that you never really leave the classroom. While we’re paid for a 10 month work year, we’re working to some degree or another year-round.  And I miss my colleagues. We have so much fun together so for now it tends to communication through Facebook and, increasingly, Pinterest now that I have started using it to collect idea and thoughts for teaching.I just need to find that balance between summer break and arriving August 18 ready to work.

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