I had a wonderful lesson with my year 10's today- making short animated films in groups in order to 'add' scenes to Act One of Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet'. I used a really simple (and really fun) online program found at dfilm to do the activity, and it only took one lesson. The students were engaged and motivated for the entire 75 minutes- smiling and laughing faces everywhere I looked- they worked together, experimented with Shakespearian language and imagery, talked and thought about the characters, found places in the text that could be developed further (a conversation b/w Romeo and Rosaline was a popular choice)... They emailed their films to me and I uploaded them to our class intranet site.
On Monday, I had a wonderful conversation with my head of faculty over coffee about 'the possibilities' for developing productive and ongoing dialogue between members of my faculty about critical literacy and our practices. We were both excited, eager to get some ideas underway. It is a conversation that I will remember for quite some time, to conjure in my mind whenever things at school are not going well.
Despite these wonderful moments, I'm still depressed.
I just arrived home from an English faculty meeting. We had eight staff present (out of 20). All absenteees due to quite understandable reasons and commitments. We began the meeting with lap tops plugged in while the IT people showed us how to use a new markbook feature. It took ages and there were only eight of us. Due to the time devoted to that, and the fact that so few were present, most of the rest of the agenda seemed better off put aside for another time. It's no one's fault. Mark book is important- it saves teachers valuable time for when they could be doing more important things. I was going to share the work that my students were producing on my new discussion board. We were going to talk about what transpired at the VATE conference. We were going to discuss critical literacy and ways to teach text response. We were going to discuss ideas for next year's book list. It will be very difficult to schedule another meeting- this term is impossible.
It can be difficult to maintain my enthusiasm when reality keeps dampening it. I'm not going to give up, though. I'll be depressed tonight, and start again tomorrow.