Thursday, July 26, 2007

A New Beginning

Finally, the local college has approved me to teach the College in the High School course for American Literature, which we call The Survey. This course meets Communications 240 and English 250 at the college, so I have to meet some very specific learning targets in order for my students to have a chance of earning the credits.

I am looking forward to teaching this course, not just because my passion is American literature, but because I like trying to teach a new course. I get to explore literature on my own. I get to teach myself this August, a rare opportunity indeed. Knowing that teachers are the worst students, I guess this means I get to be teacher and student; thus, my complaints about the students this August are all about me.

Truly, my only real concern about this course is that I must follow the timeline and exact teaching units of the instructor currently teaching this course. She is an amazing teacher, but we do have distinct style differences. I also cringe at the thought of having to follow someone else's plan. Is it my arrogance or just my free spirit? I hope the latter. Maye it just reminds me of the push elsewhere to have teachers be on the same page at the same time, stifling the creativity of the craft.

Still, after this first year I will be able to branch out and do my own thing.

I am flattered that a number of my Sophomore Honors students and parents have requested that I teach this course in the hopes we'll be together again. I also feel excitement that we now have enough students requesting this course to create three sections instead of the normal two. One teacher told me he thinks my wife (an English teacher at my same school) and I have helped with this, fostering a greater love for English in our students.

While I'd love to believe this to be the answer, I think the push for students to take higher level courses is a primary factor. We have an AVID program in our school, now in its third year, and we have a definite encouragement from the district and state to convince students to attempt higher level coursework. To be honest, I like seeing the kids challenge themselves in this way as well, not just to have a better looking transcript, but to see the students really want to explore (especially in English--my bias).

Anyway, I get to delve into the chronology of American literature beginning with Native American works through the modernists and possibly the post-modernists. We'll read contemporary pieces such as Fools Crow by James Welch, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey, and The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Of course, we'll cover much of the canon, but I look forward most of all to exposing my students to more recently written texts. In the future, I hope to include even more.


Mr. B-G said...

Good luck with your blog. I started mine at the end of last year, and I can't imagine not having it as a resource and opportunity to connect and reflect.

Fortunately, we still get to enjoy a bit more of summer before we return.

Peter A. Stinson said...

I understand you're looking for English teacher blogs. Check out my public bloglines feed at Scroll down and you'll find several education blog categories, including one labeled English teachers... Actually, I think all the categories have English teachers in them... Best of luck.

Repairman said...

Sounds exciting DrP!

Also very cool that your wife teaches close by. (My wife's never been in the same school, but we're in the same district and share lots.)

Keep us posted on your new adventure.

The Tour Marm said...

Whenever I conduct a tour of the Library of Congress I ask my students and adults to name some of the books that made a difference in their lives. I talk abou the power of books and point out the fact that literature was so powerful that the Nazi's had bookburnings. I suggest some books to them concerning censorship and constraints on free thought. Fahrenheit 451 is one of the suggestions along with 1984, Animal Farm, and Brave New World.

I normally bring up The Crucible when were are in Salem and tie it into the McCarthy Era. I can get away with this since I am not their teacher and don't have a curriculum that ties me down.

In the past, I've caught several of my students actually buying the books I've suggested when we were near a Borders or Barnes and Nobles; it's the greatest compliment they could have paid me!