Okay, it’s been a few days since I’ve updated here, and it occurred to me today that I will begin my professional career officially five weeks from tomorrow (and will begin teaching the following day). Where am I at? Here’s where I stand in terms of progress.
English 11 is going to be a breeze, comparatively speaking: I have taught American lit to juniors before (albeit honors-tracked juniors), and I have a good idea of roughly where they should be at and where I need to get them as they head into their senior year. I have also selected virtually all of my literature and have read the text from cover to cover.
English 10 is a little more problematic in terms of what to expect: I have read the literature text (which is largely multicultural but breaks down units by genre and then by themes) and have selected the works from it, as well as a novel (Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird, which I am pairing up with units on freedom and liberty to further develop the theme). I’m not as comfortable with what I’m teaching, and I’m still a little bit wary about passing over Julius Caesar, which means that I’m not teaching any Shakespeare, but I think I can handle it.
English 12 is doing better; I’m still reading through the world literature text, and I’ve basically decided that the unit on the Americas and possibly on Europe (which are the last two sections of the text) will probably be abandoned, the former because there’s really no need to spend another chunk of time on American literature when the entire junior course is devoted to it and the latter mainly because of time. There are some works in it that I would like to cover, like the excerpts from Cervantes’ Don Quixote (or if, unlike me, you’re a purist that demands the modern Spanish spelling, Don Quijote), and Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, but nothing that I feel I must teach.
I’m still unsure about the novels elective. I have basically all of my novels picked, but the order might change. I have a strong feeling that I’ll be teaching Of Mice and Men first because it’s a nice short little book to get us started, which we can follow up with the longer Grapes of Wrath. I also still have to see whether or not this elective is taught second semester (like I think it was last year) and whether or not I’m locked into that – I think I would prefer it to be second semester, anyway, but I’d like to know.
The writing elective is the course that I have the most work to do on: I have some general ideas for assignments, but I’m really up in the air about a) when I’m going to teach them and the sequence, b) what other things we can do that will be authentic assignments that won’t make the course feel dull and contrived, and c) how I’m going to put them together once I figure out what I want to do fully.
I feel better than I did several weeks ago, but now I really feel like we’re on the home stretch, and I need to have things more in order. I also still need to plan out a questionnaire, beginning activities for each class, and how I’m going to address discipline, as well as put together syllabi and change my pamphlet, update my new personal website (which I’ll eventually link to) with pages for parents and students…
Like the narrator in Frost’s classic poem says, I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.