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.