Original post idea taken from Elizabeth.
Jacket: Banana Republic// Dress: Old Navy// Tights: Target// Boots: Shoemint
Going back to school after Christmas break sucks, trust me, it really does. After two weeks of no-school-heaven there is not a teacher in the world who wants to wake up in the pitch black 20 degree weather and drag her butt to school.
There is something to love about teaching after Christmas.
You see, something happens to the students over Christmas break. I can never quite figure out why or how, but Christmas break is a turning point in the year. Before Christmas it's an endless cycle of power struggle, enforce rules, discipline, procedure until we all want to cry. Battle battle battle. And then after Christmas we come back and we're all just a little softer, you know. More chill. I feel like somehow during the break we all realize that we're playing on the same team. We have the same goals- enjoy school, learn something, pass the class. I no longer put up my defenses against any kid who dares question my rules. And the kids no longer fight the cell phone policy or wear their hats in class. We all just kind of give it up and decide to get along. The kids believe me when I say that I am giving them a practice ACT for their own benefit, not for my own twisted amusement. I, in turn, believe them when they say they were late because of a flat tire, not because they were intentionally trying to ditch my class and piss me off.
This year I am teaching three junior classes. It is an ideal set up. This is my fifth year teaching juniors so the lesson planning is a cake walk. A little tweak here, a copy here and my lessons are ready. Furthermore, I really really enjoy teaching juniors. I love the junior core (American literature!), and juniors are just at such a great age. Not bored like the seniors, not clueless like the sophomores. Give me juniors until the day I die!
Oh- and another thing that makes after-Christmas-teaching so awesome is that the second half of the junior curriculum is so much more fun to teach than the second half. We knock out my not so favorite books by December (The Crucible, Scarlet Letter, excerpts of Huck Finn) and do the books I really love the second semester (The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, The Things They Carried). The freezing cold temps and black mornings may not help me out of bed in the morning, but the excitement of teaching material I love does. Teaching from January until May is a freaking dream, I tell you.
And now, what we did in class:
LAST WEEK we finished up our unit on transcendentalism. I get a little bored of teaching just about transcendentalism so I threw in some other American poets. The ones I feel like I for sure have to cover are Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Henry David Thoreau. Then, to spice it up a bit, I go over other American favorites: Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath, Robert Frost, ee cummings, William Carlos Williams, and Shel Silverstein. The kids surprisingly dig it. Mostly because poets are weird. Williams proposed to his wife only after the older sister said no. Emily Dickinson lived in total isolation. Poe married his 13 year old cousin. Plath stuck her head in an oven. See? Poets be craaaaaaaazy!
THIS WEEK the kids tested on their poets and poetry terms (Onomatopoeia! Metaphor! Alliteration!) and handed in four poems they wrote themselves, using poems by our poets as examples. They had to do a children's poem in the style of Shel Silverstein, a "Song of Myself" in the style of Walt Whitman, etc. They hate me when I assign the poems, but then somehow stoked out of their minds when they turn them in to me. Poetry will do that to you!
TODAY we started The Great Gatsby. I do not know what it is about this book that has a hold on me. It's not my favorite book ever written, but it is my favorite book ever to teach. Fitzgerald just lays the groundwork so well and then, oh boy, kids, get ready because the shiz is gonna hit the fan! Oh, and just wait until you see how it ends! You'll never see it coming! I can't help myself. I just get so stinking excited about teaching this book every dang time I teach it.
Also, Fitzgerald, I mean, sheesh. That man can craft a sentence. How about this one: "Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men." FOUL DUST THAT FLOATED IN THE WAKE OF HIS DREAMS? It's like poetry! Except even better than poetry. Every time I read The Great Gatsby (which is once a year) I catch layers and meanings and symbols that I never saw before.
To introduce our Gatsby unit today, I had students choose what their "American Dream" was. Then they had to move to a sign in the room that had the word that corresponded the closest with their dream. The signs read Family, Beauty, Fame, Power, Money, and Career. Most students choose family. It's funny, though, because when I asked them what the average American would say is their "American Dream" they all went to the money sign. So everyone else in America is obsessed with money except for the students in my English classes who somehow are wiser and smarter than the average American and know the true importance of family? Or maybe they misjudged themselves? Or misjudged the rest of America?
I also showed a short clip done by A&E about Fitzgerald's life. Usually I don't bother too much with authors personal lives but with Fitzy I feel like it's essential. Everything about his personal life carries over into his writing, you know?
The next few weeks we will busy with Gatsby with some thrown in prep for the writing portion of the SAGE (We take it the second week of February.) Oh, and then of course we'll be prepping for the good old ACT which is going down on March 3. It's such a busy, fun time to be in the classroom.
And now, to bed!