School started last Monday, August 25th, so if I keep up with my day counts for my blog, I guess this is the Day 5 post…even though I’m on maternity leave. It will be so much easier to return to school on Day 30 than calling it my Day 1. Besides, with the number of times I drive into school each week, I hardly feel like I’m on leave.
I have a wonderful retired teacher taking care of my 130ish new students, but she was neither an English nor history teacher, so I find myself spending hours typing out all the details of my lesson plans for her – most of the time after both Spartacus and hubster have gone to bed…even at home I’m a terrible procrastinator.
I imagined long-term subbing would take one of two paths: either the substitute does everything the teacher would normally do (like I did when I student taught – some guidance from the teacher but I got to plan, create, and teach everything), or the substitute follows the teacher’s instructions to the letter like she would if she were only subbing for one day, not 30. Since my sub was nervous about doing something I didn’t want, and since I am a micro-manager and have true difficulty surrendering my students – even students I haven’t met yet – to a stranger, it feels like I’m doing MORE work than I would if I had gone back to school. It drives my husband bonkers – I hear, “Aren’t you on leave?” about six times a week. It’s true – I’m currently using up all my vacation days, and then the last two weeks of my leave I’m unpaid – so in theory I shouldn’t be doing any work. But anyone who is a teacher knows it is way harder to go on vacation than it is to come in to work, so I’m up late, uploading readings and tweaking worksheets. I’ve got the first three weeks of lesson plans done; I’m hoping to finish up the rest of the first six weeks in the new few days so I can actually take those unpaid days off for real. My best friend flew down from Minnesota to visit this weekend, and I was glad to have had most of this week planned so I didn’t have to worry about school stuff while she was here.
|8-week-old Spartacus and my BFF from up north|
My principal called me last week; he got a parent complaint about my summer reading list for my AP students. He wanted to know if I had gotten these books from some sort of AP list; I told him…well, sort of. Some I had read in book clubs; some were recommended by other teachers. All were novels and non-fiction books written for adults with adult content. I figured the first complaints would be for Gone Girl – women using sex as a weapon might ruffle some feathers in this conservative southern town. Or Kite Runner (rape scene), or Silence of the Lambs (cannibalism), or Unbroken (torture). But the parent called about Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.
To be honest, I haven’t read this novel in years, but I remember loving it. It has a SparkNotes, so it must be used in classrooms, and it didn’t occur to me to be a source of complaint. I first read it in middle school; my hometown library used it for a city-wide book club. It takes place in South America, where a group of terrorists hijack a political party and hold the guests hostage. I didn’t remember specifics, but I figured if the Sun Prairie Public Library could use it for a book club, it couldn’t be too controversial…I suspect my principal was really calling just to be able to tell the parent he did, and to assure him or her that we would vet the reading list better next year…I wonder what this parent will say when we get to Brave New World and the rampant promiscuity that book holds. I guess I can be proud now; one can’t be a truly engaging English teacher until a parent complains about the reading list…