I love telling students, with the straightest face I can muster, that “B.S.’ing” is one of the most crucial steps in the writing process. Sometimes I just write it on the daily agenda and wait for one of the sharp-eyed ones to call me on it.
In all seriousness, I do believe that brainstorming is indispensable before writing. Whether one does it via free-writing, a web or outline, or just a good old-fashioned list, a writer must generate a number of ideas before committing to one. Analogously, students should generate a lot of “low-risk” writing (more than a teacher can read, or would want to) before they develop one into a polished piece.
In this spirit, here is a quick list of possible “achievements” for Entry 4. You’ll recall that I need to document and analyze eight to show how I met three (previously discussed) standards. Excuse me in advance if this sounds like I’m glossing my resume. I am, more or less. But it’s for a good cause. Think of all the food my family can buy and the mortgage we can pay if I get an eight thousand dollar bonus. In two years. If I pass.
1. The canoe. Another teacher and I won a $9K grant to build a Native American dugout with traditional stone tools next year, a project we look forward to doing in conjunction with the Alexandria Seaport Foundation. Booya.
2. This blog. And other recent clips, including a piece in Ed Week (June 14) challenging Newsweek’s list of the 100 Best American High Schools. Teaser/shameless plug: watch this space for an upcoming debate with Jay Mathews, chief architect of the list.
3. Learning Alive. An outdoor program for grades 3-8 combining writing and curriculum-related field trips which I conceived and ran for two years at Alexandria Country Day School (ACDS), the small private school where I used to teach.
4. Language Arts Department Chair. Mentored younger teachers, set up inservices, and attempted to align a K-8 Language Arts Curriculum at ACDS.
5. Summer Camp Director. Also at ACDS, I grew a spindly sprout of a summer program (net $10K+) into a robust sapling (net $50K+) over the course of two summers.
6. NVWP Summer Institute. Instead of weenie roasts and slippy slides for me this summer, I am co-director of an intensive 5-week professional development workshop by and for teachers based at George Mason sponsored by the Northern Virginia Writing Project.
7. IBET English coordinator. Resume-ese for saying that next year, along with force of nature and program founder Barbara Nelson, I will help keep all the ninth grade English teachers on the same page as we work our way through the complex interdisciplinary program at TJ that “integrates Biology, English and Technology.”
8. Extracurricular sponsor of: the classic rock club that got a surprise visit from Jethro Tull this year; an Odyssey of the Mind program that sponsors an invitational meet for more than 700 elementary school kids; and, next year, a tutoring program at a local elementary school, among other possibilities.
9. Super dad. Jack and Will are playing in the sprinkler as I type, and my lovely wife is sending me to bass fishin' camp. NBPTS might not give me credit for this one, but my family does. Happy Father's Day 2006, loyal readers. Time for snow cones.