Saturday, June 21, 2014

Year in Review, Part 2

On December 22 I wrote a post extolling the virtues of Canada and in that post I pledged to figure out a way to comment that someone's gitch was showing without getting fired. I partially fulfilled that one: I haven't been fired. That's true despite the fact that my 1st block students' most memorable moment was my retort to a slightly late 11th grader's plea that he was almost on time: "Being almost on time is like being almost pregnant."

On December 26 I confessed to changing political beliefs related to the Affordable Care Act and Same-Sex Marriage by quoting Keynes ("When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"). I hope that I am ending the year more open-minded than I started it. Knowing that I'm open to the charge of being wishy-washy, I resolve that a year from now I'll actually have a coherent political philosophy. Check that, of course I won't. Besides, politicians love to court people in the middle . . . unless one lives in a safe electoral district where my views really aren't courted in any way, shape, or form.

On January 20 I wrote that "Our entitlement perspective on schools leads us to mistake seat time for learning and consistency of quality for excellence." After writing that I taught better. I taught better by throwing away the rule book for a few particular tasks in my classroom. I re-sequenced units of instruction in a way that made sense to me and my students, but defied consistency with other classes. I informally swapped ideas with a friend and colleague, and was perfectly at ease with how we each implemented what seemed to work for our classes. I improvised a review game involving index cards and simple posters . . . and actually had 11th graders paying rapt attention at 2:25 on a sunny Tuesday in June. I relearned that infusing my personality and eccentricity into a class leads to my best instruction.

On January 26 I came a bit too close to offering salty commentary that might be construed as insubordinate. Good thing I write under an oh-so-clever pseudonym.

On March 30 I reflected on a day spent with music education professionals. I remain envious of the professionalism they exude with a conference like that, and I wonder if I would ever have the chutzpah to work with others toward building that for Social Studies educators. If I'm tired of playing small ball as a school system, why am I not swinging for the fences myself?

On tax day I wrote that I finished World War Z. I regret that I haven't found as good of a book as that since finishing it. I'm only 33% through the book I selected next. And I know it's nowhere near as compelling as the book on the Battle of Gettysburg I was reading last year at this time.

On May 18 I referenced a brilliant column about being a loyal hometown fan. The irony that yesterday my neighbor gifted my kids with Red Sox tee-shirts because she has mistaken my Ted Williams hat for me being a Sox fan hasn't been lost on me. How does someone tell a kindly septuagenarian that I'm not a Red Sox fan and cannot be as long as a) the Sox reside in Boston and b) the American League allows for the DH.

And that's it for my first ever year in review. Summer vacation begins for me Wednesday. I will next teach students in September. Happy new year.

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