Holidays and Handouts


One more day of work and we have two weeks off. I am going to miss my students. I was working on these handouts I give out at the beginning of a “unit” today — I call them “minisyllabi.” They’re kind of cute. Bascially, their purpose is to list the works of literature we’ll study, literary terms they’ll learn or review, major assignments, and recommended literature for extension. Yeah, that last bit is kind of “way out there.” I’d be surprised if my students ever actually decided to read one of those books I put on that list. I do it just in case there is another Dana in my class — someone who is quiet, who might not participate much in class discussion — but someone who might actually want teacher recommendations.

I went through this phase in high school when I determined I was going to read every book I needed to read to prepare for college. It started well. I tried to read Agamemnon, but it wasn’t the best introduction to Greek epics — why didn’t my teachers ever have me read The Odyssey? Or even The Iliad? I have come to the conclusion that until I moved to Georgia, I had the crappiest English teachers (generally speaking). I can’t remember doing a single thing in my tenth grade English class except busy seat work. I don’t remember reading a single work of literature that year. My 11th grade teacher was different. I do remember reading “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in her class, because I remember having to write a sermon. It was an assignment I agonized over, having never yet been to church at that point in my life. I asked my 11th grade English teacher for a list of recommended reading before I moved to Georgia. She gave me a box full of discarded paperbacks instead. There were selections from Twain and Dickens in that box. I was really grateful. I was kind of weird, I guess, but I had it in mind that if I hadn’t read certain books before college, I’d be lost, and all the other students would be ahead of me — I’d never be able to follow class discussions. I found this antiquated book in the library after I had moved. It listed recommended reading for students looking to prepare for college. Like I said, I stalled at Agamemnon. Not a good start. I recall that I tried to read Crime and Punishment, too.

So for any kids I teach who might be as weird as I was, I compile a list of recommended reading related to the literature units we cover.

I had already compiled a “Civil War, Civil Rights” unit handout, which I tweaked with a new font. I made one for “Regionalism, Realism, and Naturalism,” during the course of which, I discovered the husband of my American Realism and Naturalism professor in college has edited a new(?) collection of Realism and Naturalism for Penguin. Remarking upon this to my husband, I was told (in a rather unimpressed, offhand tone, I might add) that I had been “touched by near fame.” Yeah. Whatever. Butthead.

I rounded out the collection with handouts for “Modernism,” “The Harlem Renaissance,” and “Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner.” I didn’t complete them, really — just the list of works we’ll study. I still need to round out the parts about literary terms and assignments. But they look spiffy. Pretty fonts and pictures. I sure do spend a lot of time on handouts my students probably don’t use or bother to look at even once after I give them out. Oh well. No one can accuse of me of not trying to give them an education — which is something that definitely could be said of good old Mrs. Boyd in the 10th grade.

I bought kosher Star of David cookies at Kroger at 2/3 off since Hanukkah is over. I figured it might be a nice send-off for my colleagues at school. So one more day. Sparker and I have to compose a letter. I need to give my principal grades for some students. I need to verify grades (actually, I don’t need to do that until January 3, by why wait if they’re ready?). I need to clean off my desk. I don’t know how Sparker shares a classroom with me.

I really am going to miss my students. I usually really look forward to breaks. I need the rest, I guess. Well, no, I really do. No guessing about it. Still…


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