Autumn Leaves

This morning, I peeked out the window of my classroom because I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. Autumn leaves were raining down from the trees above onto the gravel walkway leading to Zaban Park. It was beautiful. I love the fall.

I haven’t been especially busy lately. In fact, quite the opposite. Yesterday, I only taught one 45-minute class. Tuesdays are my lightest day anyway, but one of my classes was canceled so students could meet with their clubs. This sounds weird to most of you, but basically, my block schedule is reminiscent of a college schedule: I meet with each class four days a week, three 45-minute periods and one 90-minute period. For the rest of the day, I was scrounging for things to do. I suppose I could have left, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was supposed to be doing something, so I stayed.

We had visitors to our school yesterday — prospective students, eighth graders looking at private schools. A week or two ago — it’s all running together now — we had a fair for prospective parents. I think that I’m developing the reputation for being good at “selling” the school. I guess if you really like and enjoy something, it just doesn’t feel like “selling.” The prospective students came in the morning for an introduction to the school, attending selected classes. Mine was one. Sim told me that the eighth graders said they enjoyed my class. We read a poem by Margaret Atwood called “Half-Hanged Mary,” which is about an accused witch who hanged, but did not die, and finished Act 3 of The Crucible. The eighth graders were participating in discussion about the poem, and two of them even volunteered to read parts (!). It was fun.

Meanwhile, my 10th grade Honors classes are evaluating themselves like Ben Franklin: looking inward at one thing they might improve about themselves, whether it is snacking between meals or procrastinating, and keeping a daily journal reflecting over their successes in failures for one week. One of my students is doing a Livejournal, and I am having the best time reading it and learning so much about him. He’s awesome. I can’t link it here, because I won’t compromise his anonymity. I long ago realized that if I am keeping a blog using my own name, it is probable that some of my students will find it. I write with that thought in mind (most of the time). I don’t give them the URL or encourage them to read it, but I decided I wouldn’t say anything here I wouldn’t say to them. At the same time, I don’t use their names here. For one thing, they’re underage. For another, they didn’t ask to be written about by their crazy English teacher. Anyway, before I went off on that tangent (and my students know I never go off on tangents, ever), I was going to tell you that looking inward and searching one’s self is a Jewish teaching called cheshbon hanefesh, or “an accounting of one’s soul/self.” I have asked students to do this activity when I’ve taught the standard textbook excerpt from Franklin’s Autobiography before. In fact, when I was getting certified to teach gifted students, I had to write a unit that I would actually teach, and I wrote a Revolutionary War unit including this activity. So basically, I integrated the Judaics and English curricula and didn’t even realize it. So I wrote an article for our school newsletter. I’m excited about it. I think everyone will really be interested in it.

Monday, I have the GISA conference. I am kind of hoping to see familiar faces there, but I am only sure of one person I went to UGA with who teaches at a private school.

I am a little disappointed in some of my former colleagues. I wrote them telling them where I was, what I was doing, and just touching base with them. I chatted with these ladies every day while I worked with them, but I didn’t get a reply. It’s possible, I suppose, that my e-mail didn’t get through, but it seems to work for everyone else I’ve sent e-mails to. Oh well, as they say.

I’m going to call my grandmother and wish her a happy 54th anniversary. Good night.