Sunday, July 29, 2018

Teacher Life Update

Teacher Desk
Since the last time I've updated, I've accepted a teaching job across the state line in Missouri, and moved back to rural Arkansas. I have been busy trying to make a decision about housing, while staying at my parents, taking summer graduate classes, and trying to reset my orientation back to teacher. Oh, and planning for my fall internship for graduate school. So....definitely not busy. Nope, not at all.

I will be the English teacher for 9th-12th grades. When I met with my principal, he was supportive of my plans to implement what amounts to a readers/writers workshop model. (I'm excited to finally get the opportunity to try this model out- especially after reading 180 Days (Gallagher and Kittle) and Novel Approach (Roberts) this summer). I asked about curriculum guidance or required texts per grade, and for the first time in my teaching career....I sort of have free reign. This is both really exciting, and.....well, a big responsibility. My priorities are preparing 11th graders for the state state (of course), but I also have other concerns.

Since students can read almost anything, within reason and my personal budget, I have a few things I am considering:

1. I want students reading a volume of books, and I want kids to have experience reading in a variety of groups. I want my units to include independent reading, book clubs (reading the same book with 1-4 other students), and probably 2 whole class opportunities to experience a book or play all together. 

2. I don't want students exposed to books based solely on my tastes, or on tradition. And since I expect mostly white students in a rural community, I feel pressure to find diverse authors and characters, particularly positive LGBTQ representation, different ethnic and racial background, and English language learners.

Built in shelves AND windows!
3. I am also mindful of how I pace 4 different grades can either make it unnecessarily challenging for me, or I could spread the load out to be more manageable. For example, balancing 4 whole class novels at once feels hard; balancing potentially 4 grades with 4-5 different book club options going on sounds like a potential hot mess.

I have built a decent beginnings to a classroom library for independent, choice, reading- but I am concerned for creating enough choice in level with enough copies of individual titles for book clubs. I am also needing to make a decision between The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible for 11th grade so I can order copies, and a little at a loss for 12th grade whole group texts. I have a rough draft idea to do a Southern Lit themed year, or plan for choice: give students the option between a couple of different combinations of whole class texts. If you want to creep on my planning thus far, here's a link.

In good news, I have heard we are ordering chrome books for students (Yay!). I also feel like I have a decent handle on how I want my writing units to look like, where every grade follows 3 deepening laps in 4 chunks (not exactly genres) of Narrative, Informational, Argumentative, and Multi-Genre. I think if every grade is following the same chunks, I can differentiate the models, and cross-pollinate (if you will), having students write to each other and share their writing.

If you happen to be reading, and would like to help with books for my classroom library, I'd greatly appreciate it!

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