This is What’s Occupying my Thoughts

It’s Wednesday, and I’m preoccupied with getting everything ready for the first day of the spring semester at Albright College. Classes begin Monday, 23 January, and I’m like old race horse that hears the starting gun and is ready to go. Teaching is my thing, and preparing for each new semester is always fun and challenging. This semester I’ll be teaching three courses – two of them will be new for me, and one of those two is a brand new course. My first class on the 23rd will be the one I’ve been teaching since beginning at Albright six years ago. it’s called “Communication Skills for Teachers” and includes segments on public speaking, professional writing, and developing parent conferencing skills. It’s a lot to cram into one semester! Originally, it was a required course for all students planning to become elementary or secondary teachers, but it is now only required for the secondary students. (I won’t go into the rationale for that change because, frankly, I don’t understand it.)
This semester I will also be co-teaching the Professional Seminar (“pro-sem” in Albright-ese). That course begins on Wednesday, 1 February, and meets from 5 t0 7 PM each week. Secondary student teachers come back to campus to discuss their expereinces and learn more about effective teaching. After almost 40 years of teaching – at the college level and from second through twelfh grade, I have been inserviced in a huge variety of “new” programs, all designed to improve the service we provide our students. With all the various terms that I’ve learned for these systems and even with all the wonderful new doors that technology has opened for teachers and students, the conclusion that I have come to is that “good teaching is good teaching is good teaching.” The terms we use to refer to things we’re doing in the classroom may change, but there is little under the sun that is new to what makes a good teacher effecive in the classroom – and beyond the classroom, for that matter.
I truly enjoy being able to contribute to the training of future teachers, and each semester that I work with the Albright students, I learn more about the art of teaching. It is an endless pursuit – to be the best teacher I am capable fo becoming and to help these future teachers maintain their passion and hone their skills and the art of teaching.
I will be co-teaching a third course – a brand new one that is being offered for the first time. The first half of the semester will be taught by a sociologist who will discuss the school and its place in the community. My half of the course will introduce the students to the various social agencies that schools count on for support in dealing with a variety fo studnts and their complicated lives. I will also be teaching the students effective ways to communicate with parents and the community to promote the concept that educating a child is best done when it’s a team effort that includes the parents, family, and community. (Hillary Clinton was absolutely right. It does take a village!)
At the moment I’m busy revising the syllabus for the communications course, and writing the ones for the other two. Fun! My mind is going in all sorts of directions – mostly involving making these three courses as relevant and practical as possible.
Sorry this blog is probably not particularly interesting to anyone not a teacher, but it’s where I am at the moment. BUT – I am also seriously excited about launching our television show on 31January. Hooray for us! What a great adventure to begin the new year! Jane, Ellen, Christina, Sheila – I can hardly wait for us to begin! Jamie — we love you!!!!

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