Sunday, January 26, 2014

Waning Long Weekend

Hello again, world! Apologies for the two-week hiatus; frankly, not much happened last week to warrant an update, and also it was midterm week so all of my free seconds were hijacked for grading and comment-writing. But now, my comments are done (at least the drafts of them), and my grading for the weekend is done, and my lesson planning is more or less done, and here I am with some seconds to spare!

I think this job is making me more of a workaholic: in weeks like this past one, during which I had next to no free time, I actually wanted to spend what free time I did have on more work. It just felt like there was so much to do, and every minute I spent goofing off was a minute wasted on the other end of things, so my days were pretty much crammed full of typing and circling things and inputting things into Engrade, the magical online tool that calculates everything for you. It can feel kinda nice to be so jam-packed, even if the days sometimes end up being 10-12 straight hours of activity with barely a dinner break in between. Today, which was a long weekend Professional Development day, a fellow teacher made a joke about barely getting 5 hours of sleep, and I laughed collegially on the outside but my brain was saying "PLEASE DON'T LET THAT BE MY LIFE WHEN I DO THIS FULL-TIME."

Because that's the big news from the week, I suppose: I'm coming back! My contract is signed for the 2014-2015 school year and I'm getting more and more excited for what's in store. Here are some very very fuzzy details:

- I'm hoping to move into an actual dorm and be a dorm parent, partly because it'd be fun and partly because my salary would get a significant (10%-ish) boost

- I will probably rent a car from the school and share it with Chase

- I will have my own advisees! Which is a little scary, honestly, because it feels like a big responsibility to be the "here" at which the buck stops for 4-5 students. But I'm looking forward to really connecting with some kids and feeling like I have a group to call my own...

- As for the classes, I thought you'd never ask. A lot is still not set in stone: generally teachers do 4 or 5 classes each, so at least double what I'm doing now, which I think is the usual load at schools around the world. However, I have the distinct honor of inaugurating a brand-new and super-exciting King's Academy class: Big History.

Created by some kind of super-curriculum-designing-squad and funded by none other than Bill Gates, Big History is about grand designs and big-picture thinking, which when I consider it makes it sort of a meta-class. See, I'll be teaching one section of 9th graders here at King's, but only twice a week - the rest of the time, I'll be leading online seminars and discussions with students from every other school that's implementing the course - that means America, and maybe Japan, and maybe beyond!

There's a lot to learn about the course, and in order to learn it all, I'm going to be attending some PD sessions, which means travel, which is thrilling. The first is in February (which is very soon, not that I'm counting) and will be in America somewhere; location TBD so I get to be on tenterhooks for at least a few more days. The next is in August in San Rafael, CA - an excuse to spend some summer days in California? Sign me up.

And what, you may ask, will I be teaching, exactly? Well, a little of everything. The point of Big History is to start at the very, very beginning (i.e. the Big Bang) and take the students all the way up to the present day. Every lesson has been meticulously planned, down to the specific seconds at which I should pause each video to ask the predetermined discussion questions. I'm interested to see how this plays out; on the one hand, of course, it's such a relief to have all the planning taken care of, but I wonder how much it'll feel like an impediment to my autonomy in the classroom.

More than anything, though, it's a fairly wild new experience, which only makes the prospect of next year more exciting. There's plenty more to come as the next few months sort themselves out; you'll know the details just about as soon as I do.

Other than that, it was a weekend of relaxing, cooking, eating things other people had cooked, and playing board games, which seems like just the right way to unwind after a busy busy week. Four (far less hectic) school days stretch out between us and February, and I'm showing The Matrix on Tuesday and Wednesday, so let's get this party started.

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