The other day, my principal had a meeting with the other charter school principals in Durham County. He referred to it as the “Rebel Alliance.” While it’s tough to think of school administrators as a rebellious bunch (although my boss is a pretty righteous dude), the attitude is a little understandable. Durham Public Schools did everything it could to keep Research Triangle High School from coming into existence, and charter schools are often viewed by the public education establishment as black sheep that siphon off top students and valuable resources. I couldn’t disagree more, but that’s a discussion for another day.
The same day that the charter school principals met to (allegedly) plot the downfall of Durham Public Schools, I had a meeting of my own. I got together in downtown Raleigh with RTHS’s English teachers. One of them is Deborah Brown, an awesome teacher coming to us from Southeast Raleigh Magnet HS in Wake County. The other one is awesome too, but I can’t say who he is since he’s not leaving his current position until July; Deborah has taken to calling him “our ninja friend.” So although we weren’t congregating in parking garages at 3 a.m. a la Bob Woodward and Deep Throat, we kept it kind of on the down-low.
The more I think about it, we’re like a rebel alliance of our own: humanities teachers at a STEM-focused high school. I have absolutely no fear of being marginalized by the school’s powers-that-be, but it’s probably fair to assume that a lot of our students will be more inclined toward science and math. And even though I’ve always endeavored to make my classes engaging and interesting for the students, I’m feeling a little extra pressure to perform in that regard.
The beauty of having a small shop like we’re going to have at RTHS is that it fosters much more collaboration among faculty members; furthermore, everyone’s writing new curricula and pacing right now, so we have the opportunity to compare notes. That was the primary purpose of what I’ll call our “Rebel Rebel Alliance” meeting. I certainly won’t say it’s impossible, but it’s much harder for history teachers to collaborate with math teachers (If the bullet left Oswald’s gun at a velocity of 1,300 feet per second…); with English, however, there are much easier parallels to draw. Interdisciplinary units were always something I wanted to try at Robinson but due to the lack of collaboration and planning time, it was tough to do. Deborah, Ninja Teacher, and I have already found a few pretty neat ways to match up what we’re teaching – Romeo and Juliet, for example, will be studied around the same time that I’m teaching the Renaissance. We’re also looking into pairing my unit on world religions with Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.
Such collaboration is by no means revolutionary, but I don’t think it’s utilized nearly enough. I really can’t wait for when we have juniors to teach and we can mesh American history and American literature. In the meantime, I look forward to sharing with everyone the successes of the Rebel Rebel Alliance in bringing fun, engaging humanities book learnin’ to the masses.