I’ve been on a bit of a writing hiatus these days, since my day job takes precedence for ten months of the year. That’s right, I’m a schoolteacher – a high school English and Education teacher, to be specific. I don’t work in a typical public high school, though. I have the awesome opportunity to work in a specialized career & technical education center where I chair a program specifically designed for high-achieving high school seniors. They spend one-half of every day of their senior year with us, taking community college courses and exploring one of four specific career areas (medicine, engineering, education, or law/government). As a result, they have a chance to find out what a career is really like before they ever leave high school.
I love it – I work with really smart, really motivated, well-behaved kids. Best of all, I’ve built into my curriculum a monthly reading assignment, where each student chooses a book to read and then at the end of the month, we sit down and talk about them all. I love watching my students discover new books and new authors. I love hearing them talk about what they do and don’t like about a story – and yes, you better believe this helps my own writing! This year, they’ve discovered authors like John Green and Sarah Dessen, along with Phillipa Gregory, Jerry Spinelli, and Dean Koontz. They share recommendations with each other almost daily, and I have a lending library in my room that’s constantly in use.
Interestingly enough, they’ll rave about books that received lukewarm reviews, and they’ll tear apart award-winning stories. They’ll disagree with each other. They’ll talk with insight about what conflict works and what doesn’t – and most important, that a little bit of romance makes almost every story better. The old saying is true – “To teach is to learn twice.” As I teach, I learn from them too. Tomorrow, I’ll talk more about this. See you then!