By Kihei Staruch-Paikai, English Major & ACH Clear Pathways/Community Writing Center Intern
As an English major, I’ve grown accustomed to conducting in-depth critical analyses, reading hundreds upon hundreds of pages a night, keeping a sharp eye out for hidden meanings in between every line. Really, I’m doing exactly what an English major is expected to do.
What I am not so often doing is constructing lesson plans.
Once upon a time, not too long ago, I was a Secondary Education and English major. During that time, I gained many insights in pedagogy and curriculum. However, I reached a point where I knew I no longer desired to teach, in the spirit of being honest. It’s an honorable profession, and I admire every single person that wishes to pursue it. Frankly, I don’t think teachers are given enough credit. Despite this, I knew my path was leading me in another direction. It was a bittersweet moment. I was so excited for new opportunities; I could pick up a Psychology minor with the open space in my schedule. But I was also going to miss the Education department and its faculty.
I mention this is because once I left, I never thought I’d find myself in a situation where I’d be lesson planning… But here I am! While an Ed major, I never had the chance actually to lesson plan for students. So far, I’ve found that it’s super intimidating. I mean, you have to account for so many factors, like varying proficiency levels, competencies, skills, and interests. Each student is incredibly unique, and I want to make sure that I’m choosing worksheets that all will enjoy.
Not only does my lack of experience heighten my worry around lesson planning, but I was also recently notified that I may not have as much time with ACH students as I initially did. In an effort to reduce screen time, ACH thought it best to cut down some of the days we hold sessions. And I agree entirely with the decision; I know how difficult it is to be plugged in, staring all day into that pixelated, techy abyss. I can only imagine how taxing this is on a child!!
While I’m happy they are given more time offscreen to recover, I am disappointed that I won’t be seeing them as often. This disconnect, I worry, will make lesson planning more difficult. What if they acquire new interests over the coming weeks? What if there’s a particular activity they’d like to do in future sessions? How can I ensure that these are being reflected in the worksheets I assign? Will I be out-of-touch? These are just some of the questions running through my mind.
Luckily for me, I have wonderful co-workers with who I’m in constant communication. I know that while this new hurdle will be a tough one to jump, fellow co-workers have my back. I’m grateful to be a part of such a great cohort of peers who genuinely want the best for these students and drive this initiative to connect with the community forward.