Interstellar What? (If we ever get there.)

Posted on April 11, 2011Filed Under Teaching | 1 Comment

The newest thing going right now is that my seventh graders are reading Interstellar Pig. What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of it, let alone read it? I confess that I had not read it until about a month or two ago. But I had been rummaging around in the eighth grade core for some materials for my one period of eight graders, and instead…

(Aside: Our school was remodeled about 1o-12 years ago, and they built a new library and computer lab (beauty) and built a new admin building with a fine faculty lounge (also beauty). But they botched the gym remodel, and the pe teachers still have to deal with an undersized gym (not beauty).  What was also not beauty, though it seemed so at first, was the design of the new wing they added. In a very ’90’s design meant to enhance collaboration, the new wing was built with a central core which all the classrooms look into. But instead of an area of collaboration, it almost immediately turned into a place of storage and where you send kids to take tests they’ve missed or when they are a pain in the Heineken. And that giant, mostly wasted space made all the classrooms over there mighty tiny.  But back when we were divvying up classrooms, all the old veteran eighth grade teachers wanted the new spaces. Hahahahahaha! I picked the biggest room in the school other than the band room.)

So I am rooting around in this area (much like I was scavenging 18 years ago in our storage closet, and found a cache of The Outsiders) and I find 150+ copies of Interstellar Pig. Hmmmm. Our district head of curriculum has been trying to get us to get rid of Tom Sawyer, and I must admit that Tom has been more and more of a struggle these days, so I have been doing a little shopping around. But here is a pile of books with a groovy, seventh-grade-type title. Right on! So I read it, and I like it (sci-fi), and it has a goodly amount of excellent vocabulary (a prime factor in my choosing of books). Plus, my son (6th grade, a voracious reader, going to be in my class next year, eek!) killed it in about 3 hours, and was ready for the sequel. Perfect.

But it turns out that there’s a problem: it’s technically on the eighth grade list. Wait though, I haven’t seen an eighth grade teacher teach that one since ’96 at the latest, and one of the eighth grade teachers hasn’t even read it.

So I have my servants load up a cart and tote them all over to my room. What I don’t do is get around to talking to my department head about this. She is VERY old-school, by-the-book, protocol is everything. I guess those are positive attributes for a department head to have. I guess that’s why I’m not department head…

(Aside: When I was student teaching, back in the day, my cooperating teacher was the department head at the high school I was at. He liked to play it up, and I thought that it was some sort of prestige job. Then I get here and find out that the department head job was supposed to rotate every few years between all of us. And all it meant was that you got to go to the Management Team meetings every two weeks, have to keep track of and order supplies, and disseminate information from the higher ups. Oh, and you got paid a few hundred dollars a year more. If the job ever rotated to me, there’d be chaos. Nobody would have red pens, folders or index cards. Nobody would know that we’re supposed to give the writing assessment by April 4 or when the county writing contest entries were due. I’d probably even forget to have meetings… and if I did manage to have meetings, I certainly wouldn’t remember to have snacks available. (Mmmm. They always seem to have snacks.)  Luckily there has always been someone willing to shoulder the burden, so the rotation actually only happened once, when the previous department head–the one who somehow successfully went 25 years without yelling at eighth graders–retired back in 2000.)

So, being me, I sort of neglected to follow that whole protocol thing, and about a week into the novel (early reviews: weird, cool, weird, confusing) I started to hear rumblings…

To be continued. Maybe I’ll even talk about the novel itself.


One Response to “Interstellar What? (If we ever get there.)”

  1. Heather on April 13th, 2011 10:58 am

    I did the rummage a few weeks ago (luckily in this case, my room is home to the 8th grade novel storage cabinets- usually unlucky because it means no personal storage space) and find myself currently teaching 4 different novels- I think I have lost my mind. I’m doing the Outsiders, Warriors Don’t Cry, A Wrinkle in Time, and Cold River.

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