I'm sitting in the Grand Rapids airport right now waiting for a flight to haul me out to California for the week. In Cali (oh, Cali — why can't I be visiting you in February?) I'll be leading four professional development days in a row at three separate schools, all around the non-freaked out approach I've been developing here alongside all you Teaching the Core community members.
When I get back in a week, I'll be turning around to drive down to Illinois for another day of PD, and shortly following that, I'm doing a panel and workshop for the faculty of Davenport University (I'm intrigued about that gig's opportunity to examine the Common Core from the college perspective).
All of these opportunities are thrilling and horrifying for me because I'm being entrusted with the valuable time of fellow teachers, and I want to make the PD days count for all involved as best I can.
But along with the humbling privilege I feel at doing these things comes the startling realization that, when I'm done with this August's speaking and workshops, this year's students will be a week or so away from walking through my classroom door.
[Pulse speeds up. Pupils dilate.]
And so it is that I'll be posting some to-do list items (I was inspired by Catlin Tucker's identical blog post series — thank you, Ken Jandes, for introducing me to Catlin's work!). I'm doing this for three purposes:
- Writing them down makes them feel a bit more manageable.
- Some of you wise readers will be able to offer me tips or advice on the things I'm going to have to figure out this month (see #2, for example).
- Perhaps the lists will be of some use to some of you dear readers.
So without further ado, let's get to the first thing on my mind that I'm totally not ready for: having a student teacher for the first time.
Anybody else getting initiated into the world of having a student teacher this year?
I'm thrilled at the opportunity to invest in Clinton Chapman of Eastern Michigan University, a legend-in-the-making, who will take over my world history courses. I'm also pumped that I get to “share” Clinton with my colleague and work sister, Erica Beaton. But with all that comes some bidniss (yes) to take care of.
1. Put together curriculum materials in a manner that is intelligible to another human
It's one thing to know what you, as a teacher, are going to be teaching; it's another thing to take that knowledge and make it accessible to someone else. I've got some materials that are useful in conceptualizing our school's world history curriculum, but as a social studies PLC we're still in the process of developing the kind of clarity that makes a guaranteed, viable curriculum truly guaranteed and viable.
So, I've got to get that together, and that's going to require setting up some time to chat with the other teacher in our building who teaches the world history course.
2. Figure out how to best support a student teacher
My student teaching was a “get tossed in and see if you can swim” kind of experience — which I feel like I benefitted from, honestly, but which I also don't suspect is the most effective way that I can support my student teacher this year. Do any of you Teaching the Core community members have resources or advice for me? *Pathetically clasped, pleading hands and puppy eyes*
Right now, I'm planning to do the first unit tag-team style with Clinton, and then allow him to run the learning show for the rest of the semester's units while I observe him in action and have regular processing discussions with him.
3. Get more general teaching posts written
This summer, I started a “Four Keys to Impact Series” (Part 1 on defining impact; Part 2 on avoiding burn-out by getting your head right). This is the kind of general teaching stuff that I pretty much love talking about, especially to new teachers, so I want to start getting more of it down in writing. Having Clinton in my room each day should be awesome because he'll remind me what it's like to just be starting out (I'm entering my 8th year of teaching this year — feeling like a vet, baby!).
I guess this isn't exactly an item I need to get done prior to school starting, but it's a priority I want to enter the year with.
That's all for my student-teacher-related to-do list. If anyone has pointers for #2, pleasepleaseplease share in comments.