26 August 2007

Time suspension

There's too much time spent alone
without him here.
I miss him.
How could I not?
The time apart suspends me,
floats me over a gulf of calendar days
that bring me from one brief weekend shore
to the next.
When he leaves, our home is desolate.
It's one man and his dog here.
Both of us less than ourselves,
and therefore, we live in a haze of loneliness.
He keeps doing his job.
He calls every night and makes a trip
once in a while, not quite monthly.
Only until Christmas
will I have to endure this separation.
By then, I'll have seen him three more times
in person.

14 August 2007

Career expansion

Two years ago, I took the Praxis for Art in order to gain add-on certification in Georgia. Self-taught with very little instruction in the formal understanding in art, I managed to pass the test. In the year prior I had been cramming my head with the essentials of art history and wearing my fingers to nubs drawing and painting trying to establish a real portfolio of what I look at as decent student work. It felt like a long shot, but I did pass and for two years, my teaching certificate has claimed that I am prepared to teach the subject.

Finally, I have an art class: Visual Arts 1, the most basic of levels at our high school. I'm glad to branch out from my core of French language and to put my own talents to work in a new way. Interacting with students in a different field also lets me know them in a less than strictly academic sense. I hear much more of their conversation as they work, see how they behave with each other, let them express themselves without the restriction of French only. As they develop their own skills as artists, I hope to see them grow and pursue more study of art to enhance their lives as I believe it has mine. Without art, I don't believe that my skill in French would be the same or as important to me.

07 August 2007

Back to school

Yesterday I began my 11th year of teaching here in Georgia. With this new year, I have a regular teaching schedule without the stress of no planning period. Today I marveled at how much I could accomplish with an entire class period to sit and write out ideas and put together framework for activities and mini-projects. At the end of the day, I felt prepared and eager to have my students return to me and to continue our new year in learning to communicate in French.

Although the expression may be "fail to plan, plan to fail," it was more for me a case of failing to have adequate time and energy to plan last year. Despite the added hour for planning, mostly I was simply exhausted and stressed. I did make plans, but they tended to be skeletal and broad, lacking the detail that allows a teacher to prepare for possible tangents and unexpected eventualities.

This year I also decided to make a number of changes: reconfiguring my room, adding some new strategies to my teaching style, collaborating more with colleagues, encouraging more participation from my students. I want this second decade of my career to be one of growth and not of stagnation. So far, my students seem to like the changes and embrace them as a new way to learn French, the differences making the class a bit different than the year before and, I hope, more interesting, too.