A great friend and mentor once confided that teachers are always thinking about school:while in line at the grocery store,while unloading the laundry, during the seventh inning stretch at Yankee Stadium. And, as she was about most everything else, she was right about this, too.
Yes. It’s our dirty little secret. Teachers are always in school mode, even when class is not in session. Even when we are not correcting today’s papers. Even when we are not attending meetings, communicating with families, filing reports, running photocopies. We are always thinking about the next great lesson.
My husband reads the morning newspaper to catch up on what happens while he’s busy living life. Me? I scour the op-ed pages for accessible and relevant informational texts to supplement my core readings. Last week, I found a piece about the endangered Madagascar ecosystem to enrich the 7th grade whole class novel Once on this River by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. I was on the treadmill–actively avoiding exercise ennui– when I caught a rerun of a clip about the Lost Boys, perfect to pair with A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.
It is like watching the scenery on the daily commute: you never know what you are going to see. But you have to be looking.
And it is not only me. My middle school colleagues readily confess. Road signs are signals, symbols like greater than-less than, the periodic table or middle C on a musical staff. Cooking directions in Spanish is a sequential use of authentic language.
And yes, this is because we love to teach. It is part and parcel of who we are. But it is also because we love what we teach. We see the world through the lenses of our content areas; it is how we create meaning from every interaction, every day.