Sunday, January 25, 2009

Reflecting on the New Year

Using Dana Huff as inspiration, I want to take a little time to reflect on my new semester. My kids are still napping, the laundry is dry, Christmas thank you notes are finally done, and dinner is a breeze tonight. Don't know how I got to this spot, but I have 20 minutes right now when I really do not have anything else I need to be doing. Guilt-free blogging ... nothing like it.

I started this semester with some heavy duty style analysis writing with my AP Lit students. About halfway through my plans though, I had this niggling thought about the upcoming essay. I wrote about this below, but I want to revisit it here in the larger sense. I relearned the power of being able to tell a class, truthfully, that they as a whole are doing GREAT work. I resist comments like this as a teacher because I hate to lump my class together. My students actually will say to anyone who asks in class, "How did you feel we did on that assignment?" -- "She doesn't answer questions like that!" But when I really can say something to the group as a whole and mean it for everyone in that room, it is a powerful moment. And my kids deserve that right now. They ROCKED on their last essay. They were writing about that now-infamous-among-AP-teachers poem "Death of a Toad" (read Richard Wilbur's wonderful letter here), and I have never seen them as a whole glean so much out of a single poem or passage. Every one of them -- really. I now cannot wait for when I see this class next on Tuesday so I can tell them this -- that their hard work paid off, and I am so happy for them. They pushed themselves to new places because they were willing to try things I asked and, more importantly, took seriously my request that in the end they make this work their own through their style and voice. What more can I ask for as a teacher.

The other thing that has consumed the start of this semester for me is getting my Othello plans finalized. Tuesday is the big day when the nings go live. I have high hopes -- I have decided to do all I can to make this global collaboration thing work in a classroom so I can really see what we can all gain from it. So, a final plea -- if you know this play and want to join any of our conversations, you are welcome here and here.

Now I must reenter my life here -- with my blog time well-spent.

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