preparing for a new school year

photo by Avolore
Wednesday is my first day back at work. I woke up this morning, thinking I had better prepare myself for that reality.

I don't approach each new school year with the enthusiasm that I did when I was younger. Part of that is the mellowness of age, but more significant is the time I am able to spend with my family during the summer. I had an amazing time with my wife and sons this summer, and not unsustainable run-around-the-world fun, either: we were mostly just hanging around town, having minor adventures and major laughs. I will miss that, and I can see some of the appeal for home schoolers.

But I am looking forward to the year. I am teaching some classes I've taught before with content I enjoy, giving me the time and space to be creative with them, and  some new classes, which I'll go through later. There are many unknowns at this point: my schedule, a new principal, a new department member, a new IT coordinator, and the launch of the whole-school laptop program. I feel an edge of nervousness about these issues, but my experience and confidence as a teacher reassure me.

So what have I done to prepare for the new year so far?

  • IB Diploma Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS). I'm taking over the ITGS class in its second year, and there are only three students, so I haven't made a huge investment into any planning for that course, but I have familiarized myself with the assessments and the key concepts, or at least how they are organized. I developed a loose concept for how to proceed through the material, but it is very loose. I need to meet with the students first.
  • Language and Literature. This is a new course, so I spent some time with the curriculum documents available from the IBO and quite early in the summer developed a basic plan for the class, choosing the topics in which I think students will have interest and which will prepare them for exam papers. In the last week or so, I refined that as a real syllabus for the students. I've been gathering texts for the first unit (with the help of a diigo group of L&L teachers), and I've been thinking about the kinds of work I'd like them to do. I've thought my way through the course opener as well.
  • Year planning. Every year, I do a quick grid like this. It just helps me see how I might fit things together and make sure I keep moving. One of the biggest complaints of students about English classes is that they move too slow, so plotting the year like this encourages me to keep moving, unless I see a good reason not to. I've never stuck to it religiously, but having a structure gives me the space to improvise without feeling like I'm completely out on a limb. 
  • Reviewing last year's self-assessment.  I did this in May, and I looked it over again today. Some of my thinking about technology has changed, and I may revise that element of things to do this year. Basically, I was going to make it a bigger part of my assessment, but I've changed my mind a little. I'd rather offer some tools as possibilities and let them choose what to use. But it's important to have that list in my mind as I make decisions in the coming weeks.
I feel ready. I have a vision for the year generally and have done a little so I can get through those first few days and see what's really going on.