I'm nervous. And excited. And nervous.
Tomorrow I teach 8th graders, and like every time I "perform" in front of an audience, I have a healthy dose of nerves. But I'm more nervous because I am teaching these kids that I've never met - and that I don't know. I don't know whether they will be able to read the articles I've selected. I don't know how much support they will need to decode and comprehend them. I don't know their interests or how to connect the texts to their prior knowledge.
I'm running blind.
I'm also planning to introduce Citelighter, the tool that I will be using with the class throughout the year, and I've discovered a major glitch in the program, a glitch that caused me to rethink my entire plan today.
Backup planning has always been a big part of my lesson design. Because I've used technology regularly since I started teaching in 1998, I always needed to think in terms of backup. Something inevitably went wrong, and I had to anticipate what could happen and account for it in my planning.
But in the "old" days, the backup plan usually involved printed materials. We could always revert to the textbook and paper/pencil if need be. But the whole goal of tomorrow's plan is to learn to use the technology. If the technology fails, the plan is shot.
And this is new territory for me as a teacher of adolescents. I know that digital literacy is important. I argue that teachers need to overcome the fears associated with bringing technology into the classroom in deep and meaningful ways - and I empathize with them. Because I'm nervous. I'm nervous that technology will fail me in a very important moment.
All of these nerves, however, remind me that teaching is really about learning. It's about learning with and alongside our students. So no matter whether I've picked the wrong article - or whether technology fails - the students.... my students.... and I will learn together tomorrow.
And that excites me.