Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Teacher's Christmas List

Today, the recognition dawned on me that Christmas vacation is exactly one month away.  To be honest, the past month and a half (really, since the week after Wilderness Camp) has been the most exhausting of my teaching career thus far, for a wide variety of reasons.  Under normal circumstances, I'd choose being in class over being on vacation any day, but at the moment, I'm feeling more than a little mentally drained, which makes vacation actually look desirable for a change.

All of this got me thinking: Professionally, what are my Christmas wishes?  Putting aside practicality, what would I want most, as a teacher?  Here's what I came up with:

1) The perfect Master's program.  I've talked in the past about wanting to learn more about curriculum and instruction.  Specifically, I'd love to complete a Master's in which I could study the benefits of a Humanities-style education (over and against keeping History and English class separate).  I enjoy teaching my Humanities curriculum, but I feel like in order to keep growing that curriculum and growing in my ability to teach it, I need to spend some time as a graduate student, researching and discussing curriculum, instruction and pedagogy.  Ideally, this would be an on-site program and not online, as I really do benefit from being in a live classroom setting.

2) Speech class.  I'd love to teach a speech elective.  Speech was one of the most important classes I took in high school (though for most of the semester, it was certainly not my favorite class), and I think I'd do a good job at teaching it.  I'd also enjoy teaching a storytelling class, though perhaps it would be possible to incorporate storytelling into a speech curriculum.  This would require adding an hour to the day, and then using that hour to create an 8th period in the school day.

3) Newspaper advising.  I've heard some of my students talking about reviving "The Evergreen", CAJ's on-again/off-again school paper.  I've got years of journalistic experience behind me, having spent 6 years of my life on a school newspaper staff in high school and college.  I have experience as a reporter, a page/layout editor, a photographer, a cartoonist and a columnist.  I would LOVE to be a part of the learning process for these students, since I know a lot about print journalism and still have a passion for it, though I ultimately decided that teaching was my calling.  There's just that whole time thing... only 24 hours in a day.

4) Reacting to the Past.  I occasionally build simulations and mock trials into my existing curriculum, but with the need to balance coverage and un-coverage in courses intended to be surveys of U.S. History/Lit or World History, I cannot afford to linger for too long on a single event or time period in history.  A course dedicated to simulations (such as the "Reacting to the Past" series) would provide freedom to dive all the more deeply into historical events and develop high level critical thinking skills.  It would also be interesting to see what kind of crowd a Junior/Senior history elective might draw.

The obstacle to all of these is a frustrating lack of hours in the day, and days in the week.  I think I may spend a little time over Christmas break just researching options for a Master's, since that's less a function of adding hours to the day and more of finding an opportune time to take a break from teaching.  As for those others... well, I can just keep wishing for a time-turner, I suppose.

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