Because life is a series of edits

Chicago Regrets (and a Few Takeaways)

In Vacation, Westminster on August 4, 2007 at 10:21 am

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I finally had a break last night from the conference (after two full 12-hour days) and spent the evening with Megan and the girls together for dinner and a couple hours at the Art Institute of Chicago (a few details here). It was a good time, and I was amazed how much more comfortable the ladies were getting around than when we first arrived; they were pros.

Despite my earlier expressed sentiments about the whole work/vacation hybrid, I would say this experience wasn’t quite what I hoped because of my constant unavailability due to the conference. Leaving before everyone was up in the morning and getting home with everyone in or going to bed and hearing little more than a story or two and taking an iPhoto picture tour set to “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens, I realize I missed more than I wanted and that’s unfortunate. I’m not sure I would/could have changed anything because of the expectations of the conference (and of Westminster, who sent me here), but it makes me a little sad nevertheless.

Still, the trip wasn’t a complete wash: the conference took a turn for the better yesterday, and this morning (though I’m blogging in the middle of it) seems on a good track with more perspective on the philosophy and nature of the independent school idea. Though there hasn’t been a lot of individual process time in the conference (a real weakness in the program from my old conference directing days), I grabbed some time alone at lunch yesterday and gathered up my takeaways from the week. Here’s what I came up with:

Big Picture

  • Think like an assessor and not an activity designer (use more pre-evaluation tools)
  • Work through domains of teaching (planning, environment, teaching/learning, professionalism)

Next Two Weeks

  • Get copy of master curriculum (order/coverage)
  • Create seating charts (with teacher version) and project on screen for each class
  • Look through any existing student files/pray through rosters
  • Determine procedures for classroom activities
  • Create Understanding by Design sheets/files for planning daily objectives

First Day On

  • Teach students how to learn (how to take notes, read books, work in groups)
  • Assign students “before bell” work each day
  • Assign students procedure creation as part of procedure implementation
  • Develop anticipatory/closing actions for class topic set-up/review

All in all, it’s been nice to get away and experience (to a degree) life in the big(ger) city. I’ve learned a couple of things (okay, maybe more than a couple), met some cool people who have done (and hope to do) some really good things in the context of education, and eaten some great local food (Adobo Grill, Flat Top Grill, Potbelly Sandwich Works, and The Signature Room.

As much as I love Chicago, I’m probably more in love with the idea of Chicago than the reality of it; thus, the idea of going home to St. Louis (and a backyard that assuredly needs mowing) is appealing, despite the Amtrak trip that stands between home and me (don’t get me – or Megan – started). And that anticipation (despite the transportation required) is good.

Sorry the blog got hijacked this week, but it’s been good to process things along the way. I have some more conceptual processing I may do here, but for now, I’m clicking my heels three times and saying to myself, “There’s no place like home…there’s no place like home…there’s no place like home…”

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