The Most Insane Thing I’ve Done in My Career.

Not that you noticed, most likely, but I’ve yet again neglected this little blog. But today calls for some major educational reflection, so I’m back. But let me explain what I’ve been up to the past five weeks.

First, I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time, and did so successfully. That means I wrote 50,000 words (or 173 pages). I didn’t write a novel, I wrote a memoir, and it was physically and emotionally draining.

Second, as is my custom each November, I post on my personal blog every day, usually about whatever I’m grateful for that day.

Third, I was getting students ready for the most insane thing I have done so far in my teaching career–a school-wide research fair for the entire junior class.

See, I somehow convinced my compatriot junior English teachers (all SOOOO much smarter than me) that we should try Challenge-Based Learning for the research Essential Objective. So we overbooked and overworked the computer labs and encouraged our students to engage with the community and today we threw open our doors and let parents and administrators see what the end product was.

It wasn’t a failure…

But it wasn’t without its frustrations, either. Oh, technology…as my dad says, “It’s grand when it works…” The kids had created movies and Power Point presentations highlighting their research. Most of them were so very good. But nothing seemed to work.

And the kids, bless their hearts, are so used to technological frustrations, that they completely rolled with it. Even without the crutch of a video, they could talk about their research, about what they learned, about how their research changed them.

I still have a long list of what I’d like to do better and differently next year–if my peers are up for it–because I know I can do better.

A final note: today I got to see first-hand just how amazing my fellow junior English teachers are. Wow. They put me to shame in what they did for their students. I really feel like the five preps are stretching me so thin that I’ve just become mediocre at everything. Seeing what my friends’ students did inspired me to be a much better teacher than I have been lately.

Which makes this research fair a complete success.

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