Beginning Winter Break

In a stack of papers called Personal.

  • Feb
  • 17
  • 2006

Before vacation, do you ever take a look at what you expect your students to do and compare that to what you expect yourself to do? Do you ever do that after the break? I suspect that most of us would find the expectations severly out of balance. Rarely do I finish everything I plan to during vacations. Of course, rarely do I assign homework during vacations.

I thought it fitting to summarize my plans at the beginning of this week-long break I’m staring down the barrel of. As a bookend, I plan to revisit this on the night of Sunday, February 26 and see exactly what progress I made on all these striking ideas. What irony it would be if I couldn’t even reach that goal.

During the current Winter Break, extending from February 18 to 26, I will:

  1. grade all 3 class sets of essays collected back in January;
  2. begin to grade the interviews turned in by my seniors on 2/10 and the loneliness/setting papers handed over by my juniors on 2/7 – this is to say that these writings will both be halfway read through;
  3. read all blog entries from my students, leaving a comment with the appropriate scores mentioned, and work to evaluate the responses, ideally ending in a blog rubric that my students can use to guide their writing (I’m still not sure if I want to set such a restriction on the way they blog, favoring function over form in this case);
  4. begin re-reading Siddhartha and The Great Gatsby, along with assorted other nonfiction pieces, in preparation for the return from break;
  5. update the online grades so students know where their grade stands, in anticipation of the close of the fourth grade period on March 3;
  6. make sure my student teacher knows what the expectations are for evaluating the schoolwide writing prompts, a set of essays based on an SAT-style writing prompt;
  7. create a plan for editing the 2 collected pieces from all my English classes, thereby encouraging more attention to detail in future written pieces and possibly engaging in small grammar lessons;
  8. record at least 2 complete songs;
  9. write at least the first 3 paragraphs of a short story;
  10. experiment with moving this blog to WordPress by attempting to create a template of this design
  11. continue on with developing the “other” project (hey, I know what I mean);
  12. run or play racquetball every other day;
  13. write about my accomplishments on Sunday, February 26;
  14. cure cancer.

That sounds like an awful lot, but now I have a list to remind me. If I can just do that last one, I’ll be really, really happy. As the kids left today, I told them all not to work on school work until Sunday night. I don’t think I can afford to wait that long, but I’ll also try to have a break somewhere inside this Winter Break.


1. Debbie says:

[2/21/2006 - 11:16 am]

That’s a big list, Todd. I actually spent some late nights the last few days before break grading and returning papers. I still have a ton to do, but not at much, and I left it at work. If I’d like, I can go in tomorrow or Friday and grade; I can also skip it. Grading isn’t my concern, though, planning is.

When I went to a conference a few weeks back, the teachers were talking about teaching the 7 Habits to their freshmen. They said that teaching it to the students helped keep themselves on their toes and made the classroom more “fair” and equitable, and that made a big difference. The first habit – be proactive – is the worst for me, and I’m still working on it.

2. Jennifer C says:

[2/21/2006 - 4:02 pm]

Excellent point about our expectations of our students vs what we expect of ourselves. I notice that I tend to fall prey to the same habits anger me about my students. Ever look around at a faculty or department meeting? Most teachers look as bored and distracted as students do in class. Or how about teachers taking classes? I know I’m famous for procrastination so how can I admonish my students for it?

3. Todd says:

[2/21/2006 - 6:07 pm]

Thanks, Jennifer. I wonder if evaluating the difference between student expectations and personal expectations would change the homework some teachers assign.

Teachers are the absolute worst students ever! When students don’t do their homework, but I honestly forgot to re-read it too, there’s not much I can do to give them a hard time about it. We all fall prey to those habits because they are natural habits to fall into, that’s why students do them.

I really don’t know if teachers who expect their students to read 50 pages a night do the same. I can tell you that I don’t. I regularly fall back on my knowledge of the last time I read a story when we discuss it in class. I have a pretty good memory and a quick glance at the story usually refreshes me, but I don’t take studious notes or “interact with the text” every time I assign it. If I can’t manage to take that time, how can I expect my students to? Should I expect my students to do more than I do each night?