A Thing that Reminds Me How Much I Miss Teaching: Unit Planning (16/365)

hand holding a light bulb

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

My first meeting of the day Wednesday is with a group of teachers from one of our high schools. They’re interested in moving toward an integrated approach to teaching 9th-grade English and social studies, and I get to go and help. I’ll be coordinating the heck out of some curriculum. In preparation for our meeting, I started drafting an idea for an integrated unit. You can find it here.

It’s not completed. My goal was to give enough of a start to help the teachers in the room see some catalyzing ideas and think about where they might want to go with it.

More specifically, it’s not completed because, the closer I get to completing it, the more I want to try out the unit with my own classroom. The most difficult part of designing lessons and units as part of my job is not teaching.

I miss it tremendously. I miss being Mr. Chase. I miss listening to whole class discussions. I miss doing my part to help lessen the weirdness of growing up. I miss helping a class of strangers come to think of themselves as community and then family. I miss being a teacher.

I’m a teaching surrogate. I get to help form and build the thing, but in the end, it will be someone else’s. They will decide how to shift approaches when an assignment doesn’t quite hit. They’ll get the thrill of watching as the otherwise unengaged students starts to realize they might kind of enjoy this stuff.

A much larger part of my job is helping teachers to build their capacity and refine their practice. Much of the time I do this by positing ideas and questions that move them to see situations and challenges as the opportunities I can’t help seeing. As is often the response to the new and the uncomfortable – change, I guess you’d call it – the response from others is a litany of reasons why they can’t do the thing.

Those are the moments I miss the classroom the most. In them I have two options. I can either give in and say, “Maybe you’re right,” or hunker down and do everything I can to make sure the spark of a creative idea we’ve built together is not extinguished.

I cannot imagine giving in.

One thought on “A Thing that Reminds Me How Much I Miss Teaching: Unit Planning (16/365)

  1. I totally feel you on the missing the classroom aspect of the job. I’ve privately shared with you my own reasons for leaving and going in another direction, and it’s especially fun to work on the public library side of the game now. I get to interact with students, but more so with teachers, in a surprisingly similar way to how you’re doing it out in Colorado. I don’t get to drive as much of the focus of what they do as much as you do, but I get to find and provide resources to do these things. For example, your blog and this post, are now a resource for us to use. I like to find a way to do whatever “the thing” is, even though it seems difficult at times. It’s the challenge that drives me.

    That Google Doc you created is fantastic. My inner-teacher senses are tingling seeing the tasks broken down with themes and EQs. (There’s something that non-educators don’t get about EQs, and I wish they did. I’ll keep trying.) The reflection being included is also important. I think we forget to reflect, in teaching and in life. Maybe that’s why I meditate so much.

    Thanks for sharing this!

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