Having two new preps – Introduction to Literature and Honors Introduction to Literature – have certainly proven to be more time consuming than I anticipated. First, I plan the former, then modify it for the latter, altering the pacing and type of work they do. As a result, the last few weeks have been a whirl.
And everything came to a halt on Wednesday as the first quarter came to an end. I don’t know how I did it, but there was a pile of grading to be completed before final grades can be posted. More than I had anticipated, complicated by giving a vocabulary test on Thursday to start quarter two, generating more paper to grade.
The first quarter certainly zipped by in retrospect. I was initially trepidations about dealing with freshmen but I have found this year’s class quite nice to deal with. It certainly helped once we hired another teacher to halve my two Intro classes, and we have been thriving together. It’s been all about Greek and Norse mythology, mainly because that’s what the curriculum guide handed me said to do, but also because I enjoy them and feel they remain important foundations to all Western literature that followed.
I have come to realize where I need to chunk information, slow down to make certain they know how to do certain tasks, from properly notebook organization to writing thesis statements. This is an ongoing process, and need to keep reminding myself of what they do and don’t know.
A similar thing happened with the packed sophomore class. When we got to Puritan poetry, they complained they didn’t know how to annotate it. We took a day to learn and then put it into practice, something I suspect we’ll need to do when we get to some short stories next week. I have identified a core group of students totally invested in the class and my challenge is to grow that to include many more. Unfortunately, they’re a chatty bunch and I keep feeling time slip away, forcing me to adjust my timing. I think we’ve hit a balance for the moment.
My Honors British Literature class is composed of really smart, really nice students, and once I let them complain, they buckle down and do the work. I’m taking their comments to heart, having adjusted lessons based on their commentary, scaling back some work to accommodate other classes and even sports. This past week we took in the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s production of Macbeth. We did this last year and even though about half the cast is the same, I found this year’s production stronger.
One of my students was the Region III winner of the Shakespeare Monologue Competition, going on to compete at Radio City Music Hall in the finals. She lost but had an amazing experience and happened to get that far with Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy from the fifth act. After this show ended, I introduced her to the actress, Tamieka Chavis, who couldn’t have been nicer. They began talking shop immediately.
Beyond that, my freshmen class has competed valiantly despite our fourth place standing in the class competition. A good group stepped up and transformed a hallway into Spring for the Spirit Week competition then played a tough two rounds of Powder Puff football. At least we came in second for the Food Pantry drive so got some pride from that. They now know what’s expected and I anticipate a better level of cheering and play when we have the next round in two weeks.
It’s been busy, and tiring, and rather satisfying. May the remainder of the year be so good.