Susan's Blog

Friday, October 17, 2008


Got not much to say. I think a lot about teaching these days, but I’m afraid to say too much in case any of my students actually read this blog. The thing that is fascinating is, no matter how much I plan for a given lesson, there are always so many questions, and things I did not consider! I kind of play a game with myself, trying to psych it out, and figure out what they are going to pick out that is unclear or needs to change.

Yesterday was the midterm exam. I spent about an hour designing my one essay question. Me, the writer, just sitting there deleting and re-writing, worrying and wondering if this was just right (the format, the clarity, the extent of material covered). I thought about the length, the sources. I thought about how to make it fair but tough.

So I get there with my brilliantly spelled out essay question, I even put it on the board as I always do for those who need to see it in a different way from just on paper, I left 5 minutes at the beginning to read it through with them.

Wouldn’t you know it? There was question after question. Also, there was so much renegotiating! “We can’t do the group we already wrote about?!” and “Three pages single spaced or double? What?! Single is SO long!!!” and on and on.

All good points. I had to think and rethink my entire test. I stuck to my guns on most of it, but for things that made sense their way, I allowed it to change.

That is how I teach. I go in with a lesson plan and in-class work, but there is always something unforeseen. Teaching (at least for me) is dynamic and ephemeral; I always have to think on my feet and process quickly, making sure that I am 1) answering their concerns; 2) adequately covering the material; 3) engaging their attention; 4) maintaining my credibility; 5) keeping them on-task. And on and on. It is exhausting. I don’t know how “real” teachers do it, with 8 periods a day and more than 19 kids in a class.

My kids really want to be there. They seem to be extremely motivated, even though many of them have rather complicated lives, whether they are from another part of the world, or work full-time(!) or struggle with one thing or another.

I just adore them, and I don’t know when I’ve had as much fun. But on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I just collapse by 5. Lots of take-out this year. Utterly delicious, mind-consuming days.


You are being featured on Five Star Friday:

— added by Schmutzie on Friday, October 17, 2008 at 1:11 pm

I found you at FSF today. Have been enjoying your posts. Was curious what you are teaching…

— added by Pseudonymous High School Teacher on Saturday, October 18, 2008 at 9:17 pm

Hi Pseudonymous!
I teach Freshman English, (English 101) which is “The Essay” at a local university in Boston (Suffolk U).

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, October 19, 2008 at 10:00 am