June 2009


Looks like I’m on the home stretch on the road to certification: the certification officer at my alma mater notified me today that my application has been received, and I went online and finished the next step (including paying $30 to process it – I guess I’m helping to diminish the effects of the state budget crisis on education). I now have a certificate number and should be receiving the print copy in the next few days. All that I should have to do from there is send in official transcripts (which are already on their way to me) and register my certificate in the region I’ll be teaching (which will be another fee…give me a break, ISBE).

So I’m certified now (as opposed to certifiable – ha!), with a 6-12 secondary certificate and endorsements in English language arts (6-12) and, somewhat inexplicably, middle school social science. (I’m fairly sure the social science endorsement is an error and have notified the certification officer so it can be corrected if necessary, but I would be thrilled to find out that I managed to get an extra endorsement without realizing it. [Update, 6/11: The certification officer informed that I did manage to get a sufficient number of credits for a middle school social science endorsement. Whether or not I would ever use it is an entirely separate matter, but now I can put it on my résumé. Huzzah!])

It’s nice to have that whole mess behind me. Now I can look forward to getting re-certified in a few years! (Move on, folks, nothing to see, certainly not any sarcasm.)

In my preparation of my sophomore curriculum for the fall (which is starting to take shape, slowly but surely), I’ve run into an interesting dilemma that I thought I would post here to hear comments on the issue. (Informed opinions from professionals encouraged, but experience and knowledge of pedagogy isn’t strictly necessary here.)

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As an educator, I try my best to keep up with my professional reading: I treasure my subscription to NCTE’s English Journal (which I’m reminded is coming up for renewal in August along with my NCTE membership), and I attempt to read through each issue as I receive them. I’ve been mostly successful; I think a previous issue got lost in the mix, and I’m in the midst of reading the current issue on real-world teaching (a topic I’m very much in favor of). I also like to respond to articles that I particularly like or issues that I think need to be brought into the professional conversation, and that I haven’t done so great a job about.

I recently finished an issue of EJ (Vol. 98, No. 4) that was on an interesting subject for me: sexual orientation and gender variance. (‘Sexual orientation’ is probably a fairly self-explanatory term, but ‘gender variance’ may not be; the latter is essentially the variance in gender expression from the ‘norm,’ which could range from simple deviations from normal gender expression such as girls who are “tomboys” or boys who “act girly” or “effeminate” all the way to transexuality. The issue of ‘intersexuality’ also comes up, which is related to these two ideas.) I have been thinking about many of the articles that have been included in the issue, trying to think about them as I consider my curriculum as a first-year teacher.

Mostly, I’ve been thinking, “Are you nuts?!”

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I have always had a love/hate relationship with organization: I like organization and generally like organization in my life, but it is difficult for me to get organized 90% of the time. I tried to be organized with student teaching, but my cooperating teacher kept telling me that I needed to make more lists to be organized. I agreed, which frustrated me as much as it frustrated her.

The problem is that I have difficulty getting motivated to get organized. Last Christmas, the company I worked for gave out small planners (small enough to fit in my back pocket), and I vowed to use it to stay organized with dates, which worked to some extent but not as well as I would have liked (for one, the planner fell apart because it was cheaply produced). No other methods ever seemed to work for me, either.

When my college graduation began to approach, my wife started asking me for ideas for a grad gift. My first thought was “Technology!” and I went off to see what gadgets I might find to improve my life. My initial thought before this had been a PDA, but most retail outlets that we looked at didn’t carry them since most consumers in the market for something like a PDA will probably opt for a smartphone instead. (Smartphones haven’t been on my radar since I haven’t wanted to get roped down with a mobile voice/data plan. I rarely use my cell phone now, which is prepaid.) I had crossed it off my list, and when I started looking at E-book readers, my mind went back to PDAs as a solution for both my desire to read books portably and digitally and my desire to get organized.

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