And… I’m FREE!!!

Of work issues, anyway.

Today was the last day I need to set foot on campus until August, when I’ll go back for some inservice learning and Common Planning Time with my department, as well as setting my room up for the new year.

It LOOKS like next year I’ll be teaching English 11, Journalism, English 9, and Advanced English 9.  Adv. English is really just the same thing as English 9 (freshman stuff), but with added expectations and complexity.  Where I might read two novels all year in English 9, Adv. 9 will do four.  Where Eng 9 will write a 2 page essay, Adv. will write 3 or 4 pages.

English 11 is American Literature, and I love to teach that class.  I only get one section of it this year, but I’m hoping I impress someone and get more of it the year after; it’s actually my favorite class to teach.  I love to teach English 12 (British Lit) too, but the kids really don’t give a rat’s ass about Chaucer and Shakespeare, but I have ways of making them care about Native American lit (which I start with), and they really tend to love the filter through which I teach Eng 11, which is “What makes an American?”  We start off with that question, then look at the ways each successive wave of immigrants has changed the American discourse, with of course a liberal dose of grammar and writing instruction, too.  It’s really the class that has made successive years of students ask me if I was teaching English or History, because in English 11, the answer to that question is “Yes.”

That brings me to today’s slight depression.  Slowly, I’m learning not to look at ratemyteachers.com.  I loathe that site.  I know I should stay away from it, but I can’t help it–I have this entirely naive idea that if I look at the “reviews” of my teaching posted there, and apply a slight filter of reality over them, I’ll come away with at least somewhat valid critiques of my teaching that I can use to improve.  Sadly, this does not often happen.  See, the site allows students to comment anonymously, and so there are lots of “reviews” that are 99% lies, or at best distortions.  And then there are the ones that are just written to be mean.  And then there are the ones where I’m sure the student actually believes what he or she is writing, but they tend to rate teachers based on their idea of what the topic of the class is, not the reality of it.  So my English 9 freshmen this year often said I wasn’t teaching them, because they thought English 9 was an English language class–grammar, etc–when it’s actually the beginning of analysis, and focuses more on critical thinking skills and writing than the “laws” of grammar. And no matter how often I told them that, they got mad.  So even the kids who have no grammar issues were pissed because I wasn’t teaching grammar every day, but only teaching mini-lessons when the class had shown they needed one.  Meh.

Anyway, I’ve learned.  I’m no longer looking at it–especially as today, I looked up a lot of the other English teachers–and even the ones I KNOW are good teachers have pretty shitty ratings, with terrible things said about them, too.  I also need to remind myself that I’m there to teach them, not to be their favorite.

I know I made mistakes this year.  Those things are no longer in play, and I know how to fix the mistakes I made and make sure they don’t occur next year.

Now my focus shifts to summer, and how I’ll spend the next few months.  Of course a lot of time will be spent with my four year old daughter, having fun and getting her ready for kindergarten, which she starts in August.  And I want to get at least half my current work in progress done, which means at least 50,000 words.  I want to get my home office back together–it’s currently a room full of crap–and I need to exercise a lot.  That’s the primary goal of Summer Vacation, and my daughter is in on it.  We’re calling it Operation: Make Daddy Skinny.

O:MDS is all about changing how and what I eat, being more strict that I perhaps need to be (but not going crazy; I’ll still eat burgers now and then), and more than anything, getting off my butt.  I need to shock my body into losing the weight, because eating better alone isn’t going to cut it for me.  I’m not going to lose all 100 extra pounds in 2.5 months, of course–it would be stupid to even try that–but the goal is to get myself going enough that I can keep it up.  And I want the loss I do manage to be noticeable.

And, finally, I want to get this blog actually going somewhere.  So hopefully more regular updates.  But I’ve said that before, so let’s not waste the time again, eh?  Sarcasm: The Fun Part!

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About Michael Johnston

Father of a fifth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Forty-six years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA
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One Response to And… I’m FREE!!!

  1. Raven says:

    I’m just thinking kinda the opposite – how am I going to get anything done with the kids home from school? Have a good summer!

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