Because life is a series of edits

Quack

In Vacation, Westminster on August 2, 2007 at 1:27 pm

Buildings

(If you’ve been following along, you know I’m in Chicago for the week. If you’re interested in reading and hearing about all the city has to offer, see Megan’s blog; to experience the thrill and delight of sitting in a chair all day long in a four-day education conference, read on.)

Yesterday was a little rough. Thinking I knew what I was doing, I left the hotel (we’re staying at The Seneca, which is right next to the John Hancock Tower) and caught the Red Line train just as its doors were closing (I felt so urban-cool doing that). I got off at the correct station, but somehow got turned around coming up out of the subway and ended up walking the entire route I had just covered by subway, ending up within eyesight of Chestnut (the street our hotel is on) all over again. Giving up, I hailed a cab, paid $3.45, and went right to the door of the school.

This morning, I walked the five blocks to the Red Line station without my ticket card, which made it interesting trying to get on a train. I’m not sure why I’m having so much trouble with Chicago public transit (other than I’m an idiot), but as it was late (again), I grabbed a cab, forked over another $5, and showed up on time, pretending that I planned to do this all along.

There are about 70-80 new teachers here – mostly young, mostly excited. There are four of us from Westminster, though all of us being new, none of us knows each other that well (if at all). Surprisingly, there are also lots of folks from the other private schools St. Louis (one instructor told me there are 40 private schools in the Lou, which apparently is one of the largest clusters in the nation), so it’s been good to hear more about their schools from them.

The jury’s still out for me personally as to what I’m going to get out of this, but it certainly can’t hurt. I just wish we’d deal with content and stop playing stupid ice breakers and doing collaboration exercises ad nauseum. I understand the goal of trying to model interactive teaching as part of the conference, but a lot of times this “overteaching” swings the pendulum too far back the other way and all we end up concentrating on is the process rather than the content. Both are important, and my thought up to this point is we could do a better job keeping them together rather than dividing them up.

It’s an interesting group/association of schools – religious, non-religious, all independent (and proud of it) – as well as a real diversity of people from a variety of places, experiences, and ages. So far, I’ve enjoyed conversations with first-time teachers originally from Shanghai, Jamaica, and various cities unique settings around the U.S. In addition, as teacher types tend to be open to new things, I’ve met a variety of folks with some interesting stories: one woman taught ESL in Alaska for five years; one guy (a drama teacher) is starring in a play that opens in Chicago this weekend; and one young woman is a “junior rabbi” at a Jewish school here.

When they ask me for my story (farmboy who graduated public high school in a class of 30 caucasians, whose wife homeschools four daughters currently running all over Chicago, and who actually believes and teaches New Testament and Ethics to freshmen and sophomores), you’d think I’m the oddest duck in the pond (and that’s one strange pond indeed).

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