Alas, Where are the Lookouts?

Sometimes...it's barely a metaphor.

Sometimes…it’s barely a metaphor.

So…it’s odd going to a meeting where no one else is prepared.

I more or less had the idea that this would be the case, so I wasn’t unprepared for the event. Heck, I had already drawn this piece, going in, with full knowledge of the probable outcome of today. Still…like a chess game gone horribly south, there was a certain amount of need to just go through the motions.

If you scroll downward, it is very possible to see the list of things that you pretty much NEED to successfully teach a class that I came in with. Even those things were only partially completed, allowing room for contributions by other staff members. For instance, out of a twenty day theoretical schedule of discussion questions, I only wrote ten. That way, sure…I’ve done half the work…but then again, others have done the remainder. A bit unbalanced, but I have been at this for almost seventeen years.

Aside from discussion of why I wrote the things I did…and the structural foundation of the material…there wasn’t a whole lot added today that I didn’t do myself. There’s one reason for that, a huge reason that I’m having a hard time getting my brain around. I’m going to tell it to you now, and in doing so, bear in mind that I am restricting myself to commenting on the first unit that we will be teaching, at the start of the year. Are you ready?

How can you plan a unit based on discussion and composition, thematic analysis and debate about the identity of characters…wait for it…if you HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK?

That’s the big hurdle I was dealing with today. Not an intellectual one, or one based in experience. A hurdle based in the simple reality that you can’t plan lessons around something, much less discuss something, that you haven’t read. It’s part of the reason I’m left out of “Game of Thrones” talk…I’m six chapters into Book One, and haven’t watched the show. No context for plot. Without a context for plot, discussion…or more importantly, discussion questions, are impossible.

My grading system was well received, and adopted for its elegance and simplicity. The same with my weekly calendar, and day to day structure. Whether these things actually happen in other classes or not…it isn’t really my problem, one way or another. Another teacher’s grading system impacts me as much as a traffic jam on the Long Island Expressway…that is to say…not at all. These things did give something to talk about, a kind of question and answer segment of procedure and class structure, that was at least fun for me, and I take that at face value.

These are smart young people, at the beginning of their careers. More energy than planning, and still amidst the “trial and error” phase. Clearly, at least one of them has no real beef with letting me handle the intellectual “heavy lifting” of class planning. When it became clear that I was going to plan the remaining half like I did this half…at home in a composition book, instead of submitting that material electronically to Dropbox, things changed a bit.

At that point, task subdivision began. Things started to move in the direction of “need to complete” and “deliverable items” instead of hazy talk founded in procrastination. On that level, the meeting was productive. That’s not to say that it didn’t start out as frustrating as the art above suggests, with a “c’mon…you do it” mentality.

Much like the art above, I made zero effort to cover my Crazy Geppetto Hinges today. It’s really hard to explain to someone wearing a mechanical splint with @#$%ing GEARS in it why you just didn’t have the time to do the same thing they did. You don’t even have to really point out that issue…the clacking of the plastic parts when you move and gesture brings it home.

I think the basic theme of “let’s be prepared” was brought home by that. I hope so.

In other news, I did finally get the nickel tour of campus…which was beautiful. Quite literally an oasis of green space in an industrial area, which is slowly being gentrified. Also, I think I have an insight into the Fantasy themed setting, with Bestial style characters. On the way in, every time I go in, I pass the Farmer John industrial production facility, with a mural all over it of happy, happy farm animals. Yes, those happy animals are going to be made into meat products and delivered to Ralph’s Grocery…but they are happy about it.

At least according to the mural.

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