Looking Back At Winter Break

In a stack of papers called Unorganized.

  • Feb
  • 26
  • 2006

And now it’s over.

On the verge of returning to work, this Sunday evening is spent in quiet reflection… and frantic scrambling to gather plans underneath me in anticipation of the week. The grade period ends on Friday and I simply must grade at least one more set of essays and collect all of the work we’ve completed in class. Here’s what I’ve done:

During Winter Break, I:

  1. graded 2 of 3 sets of essays collected back in January;
  2. began to think about the possibility of when I will glance at those interviews and description/location pieces – this is to say that I read about 10 of each;
  3. decided that this week will give me time to look at all blogs, viewing 15 each day, and that looking at those blogs during the vacation completely slipped my mind, despite my handy list;
  4. didn’t even so much as re-read the back covers of Siddhartha or The Great Gatsby;
  5. never opened Excel and, therefore, never updated the grades, online or otherwise;
  6. spoke with my student teacher last Sunday morning to clarify the expectations for grading the schoolwide writing prompts;
  7. came up with the idea that, for this first week back to school, the writing assignment will be “write something interesting and have it ready for me on Friday.” We’ll scour the textbook, bookshelves, other anthologies, stories and essays I’ve collected over the years, Writers INC, and online resources for what constitutes “interesting” writing, with the idea of looking back at the 2 collected pieces for ways to edit those and make them more interesting. The first 20 minutes of class will be spent on working up a definition and/or steps to take to make interesting writing, with presentations on Thursday and publishing of the guidelines created. We’ll then move to persuasive writing (English 4, the Perspectives Project) and a kind of “tell me your story” personal writing (English 3, using Cisneros’s “Straw Into Gold” from our anthology as the beginning writing) for the remaining 30 minutes of class, reading and writing;
  8. battled a bit of songwriter’s block, losing the melodies for two songs during the drive from Vanessa’s to home. I dug a few songs out of my notebooks and practiced them to record them… eventually;
  9. wrote about 2 paragraphs of a short story. Those 2 paragraphs are sitting in a notepad by my bed and have not been developed any more than the momentary flash of inspiration the night they were composed;
  10. finished about 90% of the move to WordPress, with only the comments remaining to transfer to the new software, a surprisingly painstaking task;
  11. set up a time to meet about that “other” thing and will know a bit more later this week. I did design 2 first-draft icons for the associated Web site;
  12. did not run or play racquetball at all, though did a tiny bit of yoga this morning;
  13. wrote about my accomplishments Sunday night;
  14. did not cure cancer.

It doesn’t look like I did too well. A blog entry managed to appear everyday, though, so I kept to that unspoken goal. I’m glad I even got to 2 sets of essays, but pissed that I didn’t get to my own students’ essays (those 2 sets belong to another teacher, who is grading mine in return). With an entire week off, with nothing planned, with a list prepared ahead of time, I didn’t even accomplish a tenth of what I set out to do.

And just to beat you over the head with it, how many of our students have lists similar to what I created? How many of our students have to choose between personal projects and school? And how many of them choose the personal projects? It’s no surprise to me that the items I did accomplish on my list are the ones very near and dear to me. It wasn’t the planning, the reading, the grading. It was working on this site, the other “project,” and writing.

Think about this the next time you are shocked when students don’t do work. I’ll return to my “Faulty Comparison” series on Monday; charter schools are next.


1. Laurie Weckesser says:

[2/26/2006 - 10:02 pm]

The “other” projects scare me. How can you have time for that when you have so many other things on your plate? You are the embodiment of ambitious. My hat (proverbially speaking of course) is off to you sir.

(I did get ALL my grading done and grades updated, hiked Mt. Tam, savored a fabulous bottle of wine while watching the sun set on Stinson Beach, walked the dog, made dinner 3 times, found the text book I want for journalism next year, planned lessons for the next 3 weeks, and got my hair cut….but I feel lazy and relaxed right now at 10pm on Sunday.)

2. Todd says:

[2/26/2006 - 10:49 pm]

Yikes! You are the embodiment of achievement, then! My hat’s always off to you, but I don’t really wear hats, so my hat’s off to just about everyone.