Thursday, April 22, 2010

Planning for next week's artist-in-residence stint has been a challenge. Every day, for a week, I'll be teaching kindergartners through 12th graders. When I taught music in Harmony, I taught K-8 every Monday, and that was challenge enough. But North Haven is tinier than Harmony, with a school that has, I'm told, a total of 17 high schoolers. This means I'll not only be teaching multigrade classrooms (which we also have in Harmony) but broad age spans.

Apparently the 9th through 12th graders share an English class, and any high school teacher will tell you that such a confusion of hormonal, emotional, and intellectual advancement can quickly drive you nuts. Their teacher, fortunately, is a smart and easygoing man, but I'm already feeling high-strung about the week. The best I can do, I think, is to bring all my teaching materials with me and be ready, at any moment, to improvise. Meanwhile, I'll be digging up garden soil, hauling mulch manure, unearthing meteorites, etc. Later today I will wander down to the stream to see if, by any chance, the fiddleheads are sprouting. It's early, but I'm hopeful.

Wordsworth says, "I sate / Beneath a tree, slackening my thoughts by choice." Resting under a budding tree sounds like a good idea, and I hope to try it one of these days. But by the time I get around to slackening my thoughts, the blackflies will be out. And it's my contention that the Romantics would have been different kinds of writers if they'd had to fight off swarms of biting insects "in the sheltered and sheltering grove."


Ruth said...

Have a lovely time and I'm sure you'll do a splendid job. Are you working with Keith? I feel he is one amazing teacher to handle that grade and age span. To paraphrase Steel Magnolias, "It is our ability to improvise that separates us from the animals."

Dawn Potter said...

Yes, I'll be working with Keith! And I'm sure he's a great teacher. As far as improvising goes, I think it's the name of the game in a classroom. I can prepare for weeks yet have to throw all my preparations to the wind as soon as I walk into a room and look the students in the eye. But you know that better than I do.