The more I teach, the more I discover that older students are more my teaching wheelhouse. This year, I'm teaching Junior English, plus Public Speaking (great for introverts like me!) and Desktop Publishing, which is a class that was originally intended to teach things like "making a calendar in MS Publisher," and I have evolved to teach web design, infographic creation, blogging, and digital footprint. (These will show up in the other two classes as well.)
And I am having a blast.
Part of what is exhausting for me, though (and I am exhausted for sure) is the Launching of a Thousand Ships that has to happen over the first couple weeks of school. Class structures have to be built into place, and that takes awhile, especially if there are bad habits that need to be corrected.
Then there are the projects. Cheryl and I have a couple major ones that we're doing with the kids: they are working on the second iteration of the Blank White Page Project (directions here), and soon enough, we're going to get them to build an web-based etymology network of roots and words that use those roots. And that's on top of all the other stuff they're working on--learning how to do close readings, how to find patterns, how to get along with each other, how to like books...
Here's the thing, though. The first couple weeks have felt like I've christened and sent off a thousand ships, but none of them have actually arrived anywhere yet. In fact, very few of them are out of the harbor. And it's going to become increasingly difficult over the coming weeks to capture and maintain the attention of 90 students if they don't start seeing more than what must seem to them to be a very excited leader and a million unfinished long-term projects.
So next week, the goal is to launch the etymology project on Monday or (more likely) Tuesday, and then settle into some sort of rhythm-- writing into the class in some way, discussing, working on a large-scale activity for around an hour, then closing out with some kind of reading task/reading time. The BWP will slot into that middle time nicely for one day per week, plus maybe a little squeezed in on a different day.
Hopefully, that will allow students to see real forward momentum and not just a leader that sends off a thousand ships while saying, "I have a map!! I promise I do!"