Barnyard dance!

My first day of teaching at SA was on Presidents’ Day, 2008, which means that I recently entered my personal Year Five of teaching there.  (Yes, I started to write this post on Presidents’ Day and am finishing it now, on my first day of spring break.)  I know I tend to be a bit of a Pollyanna about this job, but honestly, it feels like it just keeps getting better.  Even when I started, I liked the students; then I started to feel very deeply attached to the students; now–this is hard to express, but I’ll try–I not only feel attached to the students, but feel a real increase in my ability to connect with them.  I still have good clear boundaries, I think, but my reserve has diminished, and connecting with the students comes more easily and feels much more natural.

That I’m thinking about this right now is probably largely a function of the week before spring break, when the stresses of the work and the giddiness of anticipation combine to put a strange scent in the air.  There’s something faintly valedictory about sending them off for two weeks, too.  My two Friday classes did their work (monologue performances and wrap-up discussions of Henry V–which, by the way, I loved as a text for ninth grade, but Romola and Dorothea are planning to go back to Julius Caesar next year) and then we had a little time left over, so I asked for pleasure reading recommendations over spring break, and there was a lot of spirited conversation about that.  (Pedagogically, it felt very right to be standing there and letting my students tell me what I absolutely must read.  My own go-to recommendation for ninth graders: Watership Down.  Very few of them have read it.)

In honor of spring break, then, some recommendations from my SA students:

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Stephen King, 11/22/63

Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games (duh, and by the way, adding to the general loopiness was the fact that some of them had been to midnight showings of the movie)

David Ebershoff, The 19th Wife

Michael Balkind, Dead Balland the other books in the Sports Mystery Series

This is all I can remember right now, though I know there were many others–the Golden Compass series, the Eragon books, The Knife of Never Letting Go…I have also had recommended to me, and read, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but it didn’t happen to come up in the list.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bardiac on March 24, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    It’s great that things are going so well with your work. I LOVE the idea of teaching H5 to HS students. It’s such a great play about youth and figuring important stuff out.


  2. Posted by g2-e3aeccdfae01481f9606a0bedb5510d7 on March 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I still have good clear boundaries, I think, but my reserve has diminished, and connecting with the students comes more easily and feels much more natural.

    Yes, yes, yes — my experience as well, and I have particularly noticed this phenomenon this year, which is my 5th as well. (In fact, we must have started our respective jobs at almost the same point — I think my start date for the paternity leave replacement at FGS was in March.)

    I’m so glad that we’re both still loving our jobs. I wish that there were more discussion about independent high schools in grad programs — such a great alternative to higher ed jobs, as we’ve both found!


  3. Posted by meansomething on March 26, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Bardiac: YES. That is almost exactly what Stubb said when we were considering it, btw. The monologues–there were 15 different ones–were not always easy to understand thoroughly (the passage beginning “Treason and murder ever kept together/Like two yoke-devils sworn to either’s purpose” almost did some of them in!), but it was much easier for the students to connect emotionally with them than with Caesar, and as a result, the monologues really made sense and were delivered well. If I end up going back to 9th grade at some point, I will push to do H5 again.

    WN?: I think you started almost exactly a year ahead of me, right? I began in Feb. 2008. And now you’re taking students around the world! This isn’t international travel, but I now find it much easier to do something like chaperone a dance or a community service event. They know me, and I know them, and it’s SO much easier to say something like “Put your phone away” or “Clean this up, please.”


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