It's hard to believe that midterm grades for first quarter close this Friday. I feel like it wasn't that long ago (because it wasn't) when I was introducing my students to my classroom and the expectations for the year. Fortunately, I have found some time to catch up, but I'm still working my way to a comfortable spot.
So far I've managed to tweak and improve a couple of my key handouts, including my Literature Circle Jobs sheet. Once I upload the new version I'll link to it here in this post and on my English Teaching Resources page. I've also made it a priority to be more explicit in my instruction and provide more silence and wait time than in the past to make sure all students understand what it is I want them to do and how I want them to do it. Adults speak at a faster rate than teenagers can process. As such, I'm trying to give kids enough time to digest what I say the first time, with the hope that this will reduce the number of times I need to repeat myself.
My 9th grade students are ready to dive into The Pearl. We'll read it in about a week, respond using literature circles, and wrap up with a Socratic seminar before writing an essay on value (what do you value, why do you value it, how is value determined, can you put a price tag on those things most valuable to you?).
My seniors will tear into Oedipus later this week, and my journalism students are already working on their second articles of the quarter. In two nights we'll have open house at my school, where I'll be able to explain to parents all the exciting things their children are doing. Open house certainly makes for a long day, but it's nice to make connections with parents and give them a little glimpse of the students' experience.
In October I'll observe an old colleague at his new high school, take a tour of the local newspaper with my Journalism class, and attend the New England Association of Teachers of English's Annual Conference. I've gone for the past five or six years. Each time, the conference ends up being one of the highlights of my year. It's a great opportunity to network, learn some new tricks and teaching ideas, and commiserate with other teachers of the trade.