Today has certainly been a day of change – change in the classroom. (You thought I was going somewhere else with that? Try over here for that one.)
Or perhaps I should say that it’s been a day of thinking on my feet…
Let’s start with last week, a short week that was further shortened by a snow day on Thursday. Last Thursday, I was supposed to start teaching Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience” – which is very appropriate, given that yesterday would have been Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 80th birthday and this essay greatly influenced King’s own philosophy – but since that didn’t happen, I started teaching it today. I was observed during 3rd period, and that went fairly well except that I had to cut my lesson just slightly short in order to cover some more information about our class Poetry Out Loud contests.
And then 4th hour came, which fell during the 11:00 hour (CST). Guess what happened then? (Hint: If you don’t know already, you haven’t been paying very close attention.) And guess who decided at the last minute that we would let the class watch this during the period? Yeah.
I don’t regret the decision – I like seeing historical moments as they happen – but it makes things a little more difficult for planning tomorrow. I have two days allocated to discuss “Civil Disobedience” and the companion piece I threw in, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and I now have one class that has covered a period worth of discussion and lecture and another class that has had none of it. There is sort of a bright side: neither class had been assigned the texts to read, and so 3rd hour took a fair amount of class time reading the texts (short though they are) that 4th hour was given to read tonight. That should save me some class time for the latter period, but I still will have to juggle two classes at extremely disparate points in instruction. I have to keep clarity of mind to differentiate between the two and make sure I cover all of the material that the students will be assessed on.
To add insult to injury (figuratively speaking), I’m taking over the seniors tomorrow for the beginning of research papers, something I have never taught or even thought about at great length. So now I will have two preps and four classes to teach each day, and I’m afraid that if I don’t get myself ahead of the game soon, I’ll never keep up.
There is sort of an odd parallel here between my predicament and the predicament that the country (and now Barack Obama as our new leader) finds itself in: through my own fault, I now have a great deal of work ahead to get myself out of the metaphorical hole I’ve dug for myself. But I have hope – I will work through what I need to accomplish, and I will get back on the right path. “This is the time” – so I hear – and I will put my words into action…just like Thoreau did.
(Now the trick will be to make sure I don’t quit after two years: but that is a question for another day…)