I've been back at work for a little over a week now, and while it's still hectic and I'm still learning the names of my students (I think I know all my seniors by name, and about half my sophomores...not too bad for my 10th day of work this school year) I'm also at the point where I'm starting to enjoy myself more than I worry.
I wasn't quite sure where to start off my classes, because although my amazing sub did an amazing job, she couldn't possibly make it exactly like it would have been if I'd been there doing the teaching myself. So I started back unsure of what I should teach, and after a mini panic attack, I decided I should start with what I love best, and not worry about the calendar so much!
So seniors have had a week of feminism in AP Gov, and are going to start a unit on Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, and Privilege next week. I reviewed the French Revolution with my sophomores, made fun of Napoleon a bit, and taught skills rather than content (outlining, listening for lecture cues, making educated guesses and practicing being wrong (and being ok with it)). Next week, they'll be starting the Industrial Revolution.
I have a pretty great "hook," or intro, for my Industrial Revolution unit: I bring in tiny coffee stirrers and feathers, show the kids how to make quills, then divide them up into teams (modern versus pre-industrialized). The modern team gets 2 members, and the rest of the class is on the pre-industrialized team. Then they have to race to make illustrated books with some of my favorite quotations about history. The modern team always wins the race, but they never make books that are as interesting or beautiful as the pre-industrialized team. It's a pretty cool way to talk about how technology replaced the artisan, especially since my students are so very artsy.
This year is also my first year at my school not running student activities. It's strange to not be super-involved in everything that's going on, but also awfully relaxing. My prep time so far hasn't been interrupted more than a couple of times (the equivalent of what a typical hour was like last year!) and the stress levels of just teaching, versus teaching while planning expensive events for hundreds of people but also teaching leadership and event planning skills to teenagers who sometimes would prefer fun to work, are just so much lower!
Honestly, a good part of today, including my walk to MUNI and the BART ride home, felt a little bit like a vacation! Because seriously, for a working mother of a 2 month old and an almost 3 year old, indulgence is listening to NPR streaming on my phone while absolutely no one touched me or tried to steal my food!