Manageable Chaos

Some years ago a friend of mine opened a restaurant here in San Francisco. He had a big reputation and it immediately took off (especially after Tom Cruise ate there while in town one night!). The hours were so intense, though: all that prep work and hustle to serve. (Sound familiar?)

As we watched our kids run around the soccer field, I asked him how he handled all that rush when everything had to arrive cooked just right, at the same time. "It's all a ballet of barely-managed chaos."

Today my freshmen were working in groups on a visual representation of the stages of life as related to the novel Bless Me, Ultima. I wanted to meet with kids on the Angle of Vision paper (see attachments of assignment and annotated sample) which I had read and responded to the night before. I had about 90 seconds at best with each kid, all the while the class rocking and rolling (with me periodically interrupting my conferences to call out, "Remember! Must be done by period's end!)

Even in those 90 second talks, though, I managed to connect with kids, respond to what I liked in their papers, and explain my messy comments so they could use them to improve the papers tonight. Finished with thirty seconds left!

If we wait for the day when all is stable and quiet to have polite tea-time civilized chats in the corner it will never happen. So we fumble forward through the barely-managed chaos like servers in some lively bistro, the tray of lessons and ideas poised atop our fingers as we try to serve them all and send them home smarter for the time they spent in our class.

Today, after my seniors shuffled out following a rowdy good discussion, sitting on my desk: a Fuji apple with a post-it stuck to it thanking me for my teaching. Best tip we could ever hope to get.

Download CP_BMU_Angle of Vision

Download CP_BMU_Sample Angle (mine) annotated

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One Response to “Manageable Chaos”

  1. Karalee Huck March 11, 2009 at 7:13 am

    I like this assignment! I wish I’d found it before my kids finished Hamlet. I redid my unit this semester with less focus on “Shakespeare as a god” and “Let’s look at every little thing he did to produce this masterpiece.” After reading Readicide, I knew I needed to help my kids (honors) connect the story to their lives. We had a really good time, but I would have liked to have used your format for the essays. I had them write longish paragraphs from a choice of topics: what can we learn? favorite character? would Hamlet have made a good leader? etc. They also used Blackboard throughout the reading to make life connections and comment on each other’s posts. It was really neat to see them identify some of Shakespeare’s art entirely on their own! Next year, I’ll use your papers. Thank you!

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