Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Fighting Disappointment

In January of each year I plan the fall schedule for my department. As chair, I generally teach just two classes each semester. In the fall I teach Integrated Curriculum Methods. This is a course that looks at the integration of science and social studies in the elementary curriculum. This course and Foundations of Mathematics Instruction are my favorites. I have been planning for the fall 2007 semester since fall 2006 ended. No, really, I have. My recent foray into blogging and connecting to this fantastic world of the kidlitosphere has given me so many ideas that I am busting at the seams with excitement.

Sadly, today I learned that there is only 1 student registered for Integrated Curriculum Methods for fall, and that it will be canceled. Sigh. I am so disappointed, in part because this would have been the last semester to teach the class in this form. You see, we are beholding to the State Department of Education and must often reconfigure our curriculum to meet "licensure competencies." In addition to regularly updating to meet new licensure regulations, we often revise our program based on input from teachers and administrators in the local school divisions. We are currently in the midst of a major revision to meet not only national accreditation standards (TEAC), but also to meet the demands of a new credit system at the University. Beginning in the fall of 2008, we will move from a credit-hour system (courses of 3 or 4 hours) to a unit system (a course is a course is a course, where each unit requires 10-14 hours of work each week, to include seat time). All this means that we are preparing for major curricular changes to come, and that my teaching load will look quite different in another year.

I will be required to offer an independent study for my lone student, though I can't imagine at this point what it will look like. I may try to find a classroom teacher who is exemplary in the teaching of science and social studies and ask him/her to allow my student to spend time in his/her classroom. (Oh Mary Lee and Monica, I wish you were in VA!)

I suppose another part of my disappointment is that I will not have an outlet for sharing books with my students this fall. Since I won't be teaching Children's Literature this summer it will be a long wait. The class I will be teaching this fall is Secondary Curriculum Methods, and believe me, there won't be much room here for sharing my ideas. Perhaps you can imagine the looks on the faces of these students when I suggest reading aloud in middle and high school classrooms. I see these frowns in my sleep, and they make me sad.

My greatest disappointment, however, comes from knowing that I will be traveling to China with the express purpose of developing instructional materials to share with practicing and future elementary school teachers. Alas, it seems I will have a rather long wait before I will be able to unveil my work.

Alright, enough wallowing in self-pity. Thanks for listening to me share my disappointment. I will now need to think about ways that my blog can help fill this void for me in the fall. Perhaps I shall devote a large portion of my entries to focusing on literature for social studies instruction. Hmmmmm . . . lots to think about here.


  1. Awww, bummer, Tricia. I hate when this happens!

    But, I would like to hear about literature for social science instruction. Another thing I'd LOVE to hear about? Dumping those "reading anthologies" kids use in second through (as far as I can tell) seventh grade and using real books instead.

    I can't wait to hear about China too!!

  2. I wish I could help! I'd LOVE to work with you!

    I guess rather than being frustrated that my philosophical "soul mates" are spread out across the country, I should be glad that we are all planting seeds for excellent teaching throughout the land! But still...

  3. Can you write a book? Then you can share your "finds" with lots of teachers all at once!

    Have fun on your trip!

  4. Tricia,

    The fall 2006 semester of my children's literature course was canceled because fewer than ten students had enrolled. It ended up as a blessing for me because I was able to focus a lot of my energy on my own poetry writing--and on blogging, which was a new adventure for me.