Teaching stuff


It’s been an interesting couple of weeks at school. The new block started, so I got my AP classes. I was nervous about that. Could I teach advanced placement kids?

The answer is yes. These kids are fantastic. Not only are they well behaved, but we can have actual conversations and they really want to learn. This is what teaching is supposed to be. The classes are small — 15 in one section and 11 in the other — and mostly female. The only real downside is that these are the kids involved in show choir, student council, senior class officers, etc., so they really do have full plates. Most of them have jobs, too, and many have … unconventional home situations. They don’t have as much time for reading as I’d like, is what I’m driving at.

I finally distributed my AP Literature and Composition syllabus today. I was beginning to think it was my own little Chinese Democracy, but I finally finished it. It isn’t nearly as aggressive as the first draft, but I think we’ll cover enough that the kids should be ready for the AP test. I hope. I’m sure it’ll be tweaked a little more as it actually gets put into practice.

We’re still doing Greek and Roman literature for another week. I have groups reading The Iliad, The Odyssey and The Aeneid. Next week we’ll read Oedipus Rex and some shorter works as a class. The week after that is selections from the Bible, a decision that is already stirring controversy. Oh! In one of the classes I have a Wiccan girl and another girl who competes in Bible competitions. Yeah, that’s already made for some interesting discussions.

Having the senior AP kids have shown me just how unruly my regular seniors are. Of course, you’re comparing show choir to the football team here. Don’t get me wrong, I like them both, but one group is certainly more open to reading than the other. We’re wrapping up two weeks of Shakespeare in this class. We read some sonnets, soliloquies, and songs, then Macbeth. Okay, okay … we watched Roman Polanski’s film version, then worked on a study guide, using the play for answers. I hate reading Shakespeare. This is probably my favorite of his plays, but it’s still, well … Shakespeare.

We’re moving from Shakespeare to one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors — A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. If there is a book with a better opening and closing line, I have yet to find it. I’m looking forward to teaching this one. I know there’ll be a lot of resistance, but there are a few students in the class who’ll really like it.

The whole department head thing is going pretty well, I guess. Me and two of the other teachers are accomplishing a lot in regards to getting the boxes and boxes of new novels ready for use. I called my first department meeting last week and it mostly went well. There’s still some tension in the department.

Sadly, I have not had time to do any writing. The Fetch manuscript is staring at me right now, asking, "When? When will you finish my revisions and start sending me out?" The Girls Nobody Wanted to Date taunts me every time I open MS Word. "You started me," it says, "But you’re not man enough to finish me." I’ll show it. I’ll show both of them … eventually.

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