No Blogging = No Reflection

My full schedule has not been conducive to blogging. I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth, but I’m not blogging as much as I have in the past for two main reasons 1) grad school, and 2) department chair. Well, I’m not taking any classes this summer for a variety of reasons, most of which have to do with money, and I will no longer be the English department chair at my school. I think it’s a good thing for my family that I will no longer have this role. I am hoping that giving up this leadership role will enable me more time to be reflective here at my blog.

Like my students, I can feel the end of the year. We really have just three more weeks before final exams. I am noticing that I’m working hard to try to keep my students engaged. In the past, I’ve given in to spring fever, but I’ve learned that I have to work extra hard at the end of the year on planning engaging lessons. I am not going to flatter myself that my students always respond the way I wish they would, but I had a great class today (at the very end of the day, no less) in which we read and discussed Robert Browning’s poem “Porphyria’s Lover.” I created the lesson plan I used today about 10 years ago as part of a model lesson for a job I really wanted (and got). I also published it in an old edition of Ideas Plus (I think it was No. 16, but I’m not sure). I’ve described it in a previous post. Because this is only my second year teaching British literature (my passion), I have only had the chance to teach this lesson three times, but each time, I have had the same success with students. It’s so exciting to see them debating about a poem, each side pulling out lines to back up their claims. It’s a great little close reading exercise that can be done in a class period. It’s important for me to have time to reflect—to celebrate the successes and dissect the flops.

When it works and a class is really clicking, and all the students are into it, there’s nothing quite like teaching.

6 thoughts on “No Blogging = No Reflection”

  1. I enjoy reading these reports on specific lessons. Thanks. Like you, I wish I had more time to reflect on what goes on day-to-day. People like you and Jim Burke keep reminding me to do this.

  2. Dana,

    I felt that same "yippee" this morning as one of my ninth grade classes had a great debate over who or what was responsible for Romeo and Juliet's deaths. It was a hoot to see their passion and reasoning and realize how much they have grown up this year. And I get to have them next year in my Honors English II class; I am going to have fun planning for that this summer!

    When you mentioned last fall about grad school, I didn't know how you would manage family, grad school, teaching, dept. head, and all of the great things you add to the profession-glad you are getting a break. None of your faithful readers want you to burn out! You and Jim Burke are two of the bloggers I never want to miss, and I wish sometimes that Jim Burke was in charge of the dept of ed.- he is a genius for starting the EC Ning and could teach Washington a thing or two about what kids and schools need. so thank you for all you share with all of us out here, and have a great summer with your family!

  3. I agree that the space to reflect on our practise is so important. I also teach 'Porphyria's Lover' alongside 'My Last Duchess' which is another excellent dramatic monologue – the trial debate is a nice approach here I think. It's also a great text for introducing the idea or unreliable 1st person narrator – I use an extract from Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale' and Ishiguro's 'Never Let Me Go' alongside Browning when I delievr that lesson which seems to work well. Thnks for sharing and keep blogging!

  4. I'm getting evaluated this year, and the structure of my evaluations has really made me want to be more reflective as well– but is there a harder time to be reflective as a teacher than the month of May?! I'm hoping to decompress some this summer and be more reflective then, but I signed up for two week-long prof-dev courses, so we'll see how that works out.

  5. For the last four years I've told myself that I wasn't going to teach research the last nine weeks. Hopefully next year I will listen to myself. I am so ready for summer.

  6. Hi,

    That's quite a jolt about the department chairmanship; I would love to hear more about that someday…

    Have you ever read anything by Helene Hanff?

    Just curious. I imagine you would find her a great ally in the classroom with respect to British literature, even if your lessons feel complete. She is a self-taught writer (now deceased) who published a decades-long correspondence with a Londaon bookshop in order to get good British titles. She was quite a character. I learned about Donne, Hazlitt, Pepys (!), and especially Shakespeare, who she adores (to name a few). She has a bit of good stuff on Milton and Spencer, as well. Tons of stuff. She read the lecture notes of a big Trinity (Cambridge) writing professor, Sir Authur Quiller-Couch ("Q"), and essentially took his courses. She is a timeless personality and not stuffy at all—anyone who reads her would fall for her.

    You would love it!


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