This was a fairly big year for me. I went back to school and now have one semester of graduate school under my belt, and I also took on chairmanship of my department, which has brought challenges both expected and unexpected. I also had the opportunity to go to the NCTE convention for the first time in ten years, and I presented at the GISA convention.
Every year, I make the same resolution, and I keep it for about the same length of time most people keep theirs: to cook more meals. It’s hard to find the time. I am not very good at the planning part. I do well for a while, but then I leave off planning for a while, and resort to picking up junk on the way home. Plus, I have been getting home later this year with more work to do, and it has caused problems for me as far as cooking meals. Any tips? I downloaded a meal spinner app from iTunes for my iPhone. Maybe it will help; maybe not. What I need to do is come up with some kind of way to plan meals. Anyone know of a good program or tip for doing that?
Another thing I want to do is try to grade things faster. I tend to get backlogged, and then I have to spend a day just plowing through grading. I would like to get things back to students faster, but I admit that’s really hard for me to do with writing. I spend a lot of time on it. I am at least glad that I finished grading before the holidays because it is very hard for me to grade at home — my children see to that. So, for that matter, does my husband. Instead, I was able to relax and enjoy the holidays as time off. Too many of my colleagues are grading papers if Twitter and Facebook are any indication.
I want to spend more time reading. I am hoping that now that I have an iPhone, I can work through some books using Stanza. I read 23 books this year, not counting re-reads (I re-read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Twilight). That’s not too bad, but if I set aside a little bit more time, I could probably double it. It’s not a race or anything, but I would like to read more than I do.
I think I did fairly well with my British Literature classes in light of a very short October (filled with days off for Jewish holidays). I cannot assign homework over Jewish holidays, nor can I assign major assignments to be due the day after a Jewish holiday, and while I understand and respect the reasons for these requests, it does make it hard to move through any material that month. Next year, they will mostly be on the weekends, so it should be better. In spite of that, my students still read excerpts from Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales and all of Macbeth. Next semester I start with A Midsummer Night’s DreamThe Taming of the Shrew in one class and in another. I do not feel as good about the number of books I was able to teach in my Hero with a Thousand Faces elective, which was seriously curtailed by the holidays. Still, the students did learn a lot about Joseph Campbell, and I think I accomplished my mail goal of helping them see the movies they watch and the books they read in a different light. My ninth grade class is going fine — I taught phrases, punctuation (commas, quotation marks, italics/underlining, semicolons, colons, and apostrophes), and two novels — The Bean Trees and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. All in all, I think I was able to move through a good amount of material in a quality way that helped my students learn it. I seem to be getting better at that rhythm the longer I teach at my school. I am hoping some changes we are discussing will help me even more next year.
So that’s it. My reflection for this year.