The end of the school year.

Another year is over.

The typical perspective of the non-educator is that summer provides teachers with “2 months paid vacation,” or some other such twaddle. As always, the perspectives of those who have no perspective on the life of a teacher seem to be at striking odds with my day-to-day existence as a professional. To that end, I’d like to list the projects that I have begun working on, which will occupy the working portion of my summer.

  • Total renovation of course presentations for both AP Biology and Honors Chemistry, including the move to Google Docs Slides, and general “upkeep and maintenance,” including but not limited to: formatting/grammar cleanup, culling of dead links, inclusion of new material, streamlining of sequencing, and generally moving them to a better, more usable state than they were previously. I’ve taken care of the initial move to Slides, and have already made both AP Bio and Honors Chemistry presentations available to anyone who is interested.
  • Re-sequencing and unification of AP Biology Prezis. One of the major tools that my students use outside of my class, the ever-popular prezi’s need to be brought in line with my larger course re-sequencing from this past year, and need a bit of unification. It’s confusing to have students using materials organized under a prior, 10-unit, structure, in the current 7-domain system. The names of the materials don’t necessarily provide the necessary context for the current class system. The overall stylistic conventions are not uniform. There have also been advances in the Prezi platform during the past two years, and the inevitable movement of embedded video clips, etc., to make not a useful time to go back through everything and give it a good, solid, resurfacing.
  • Updating the course websites. I really like mrknuffke.net, and how it’s organized at current, but the wikis need a bit of cleanup. dpapbio also needed me to go in and add a pile of supplementary materials to the domain pages.
  • Continuing alignment of course materials to course standards, particularly in AP Bio. I want to make sure that I am using materials that are clearly pegged to my course standards. So that means that I have to take stock of what I’m doing and see how it fits. I’ve also uncovered a handful of “holes” in my course, where I’ve yet to find activities that address particular standards. So that has to be addressed.
  • Continuing alignment of course assessments to course standards. This really involves taking all of my items from aligned assessments and putting them all in to master lists where particular items for each standard are all available for me to use and modify going forward.
  • Preparing for three upcoming presentations in the fall. I’m presenting at the state-wide STANYS conference, the national NABT conference, and co-presenting a full-day workshop for HHMI at the American Museum of Natural History. Work needs to happen to get these things in to shape to the point where I won’t be embarrassed (or embarrassing).
  • BSCS AP Bio Leadership Academy, Cohort 2 Summer 2 in Colorado Springs for a week in July. Not so much to do prior, but that’s a whole week of intense day-long PD sessions. Not vacation by any particular stretch.
  • Various other things: Moderating the AP Biology Teacher Community, particularly once scores are released, moderating my AP Biology course forum as the summer assignment progresses, planning for next year and my upcoming student teacher, and simultaneously building and running Biology and Chemistry “pre-courses” for a local tutoring group, 4 days a week for the next seven weeks (really the only one of any of these for which I will receive extra compensation),

To be clear, I will take two weeks of pure vacation at the end of August upstate, and in Maine. I’m sorry if your job doesn’t offer you a similar span of vacation days, but that’s your fault, not mine.

I know a lot of teachers these days, and almost every one of them is doing something similar during the summer. They may not be involved in as varied a palate of activities, but the teacher who sits around soaking in the sun and doing less than no work seems to me to be a rare exception to a much more prevalent rule.