As the First Semester Ends

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For whatever reason, unlike last school year, I have been exceedingly pressed for time. As a result, I have barely done any writing or editing, let alone blogging in ages. Here it is, the third day of my break, and I am finally getting back to the website.


My freshmen wrote and performed skits showing off the three types of irony. This group brought costumes and props and wowed the room.My freshmen wrote and performed skits showing off the three types of irony. This group brought costumes and props and wowed the room.

My freshmen wrote and performed skits showing off the three types of irony. This group brought costumes and props and wowed the room.

Speaking of which, the website continues to be a work-in-progress as I and designer Amy Imhoff strive to upgrade the Books & Articles section. For the first time in my career, I am trying to put everything I have done since 1980 in one place. That’s a daunting list as you might imagine.

On the one hand, I have less time to breathe, and on the other, I am having a better school year. Once we resume classes on January 6, we have a week before the end of the first semester then mid-terms. I find myself truly enjoying my freshmen and all four classes have distinct personalities. My two Honors classes couldn’t be more different with the larger of the two being a little livelier and more dynamic. My smallest class is one of the college-prep groups and they have gelled nicely, happy to be there.

Now that I am almost one entire semester through the curriculum I was handed, I found it lacking a purpose. Yes, it’s an intro to lit class, but what does that mean and why were the works selected? When we needed to bring on a second teacher to help with the freshmen overload in Social Studies and English, she joined my questioning.


My fellow freshmen teacher Isabelle Ryan and I needed to commemorate attending NCTE’s annual convention. A great and inspiring experience.My fellow freshmen teacher Isabelle Ryan and I needed to commemorate attending NCTE’s annual convention. A great and inspiring experience.

My fellow freshmen teacher Isabelle Ryan and I needed to commemorate attending NCTE’s annual convention. A great and inspiring experience.

Then we, along with the two others in the department, attended the National Council of Teachers of English convention in Baltimore and came aware brimming with ideas. We attended session after session, and just choosing form the hundreds of options was daunting on its own. Each of us came away happy to have attended. In my case, I had already begun sketching out revisions to the freshmen curriculum along with changes to the American Lit course.

My colleague and I drafted a proposed new syllabus that emphasized Intro to Lit as an erector set, creating a foundation and building up it, emphasizing terms and concepts they will need all four years. If approved, the readings will go beyond dead, white men to include multicultural authors and poets, a graphic novel, a film, and even a final unit on Media Literacy. We’re very hopeful of adoption even if it means tearing apart and rebuilding what we’ve done this year.


A highlight was taking the entire Junior class to se the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s performance of  Macbeth . A member of the cast photobombed the shot of my kids.A highlight was taking the entire Junior class to se the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s performance of  Macbeth . A member of the cast photobombed the shot of my kids.

A highlight was taking the entire Junior class to se the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s performance of Macbeth. A member of the cast photobombed the shot of my kids.

The sophomore class and I have finally started to get more in synch with one another. More of my students have come to the conclusion that there is something to learn in my room and they have adjusted their behavior and on time performance. It’s progress but not all I want from the room since I love teaching the material.

Similarly, my very smart Honor Brit Lit class pushes back on every assignment then does it extremely well so I have come to calibrate their complaints with kneejerk reactions to legitimate concerns.

Beyond that, I have been working as the Freshman Class moderator, trying to get them to plan things for the class as a whole. Our Film Club is in fits and starts regardless of what we show and the main reason is everyone is too busy afterschool with practices or other clubs, the one downside to being a small school.

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