The First Day of the Rest of Your Life
Yesterday I walked out of my high school history classroom for the final time. I gave notice fairly early in the year in order to force myself to think carefully about what might be my next steps. Upon moving to Boston back in the summer of 2011 I hoped to find the space to weigh options beyond the classroom. Without going into too much detail, the reality of moving to a new city necessitated having to think about full-time employment a bit sooner than I would have preferred. It certainly wasn’t the end of the world as I still love teaching high school students and the intellectual stimulation that it brings.
I will never be far from the high school classroom. In fact, it is certainly possible that I may end up in one again, but for now it’s time to think about other possibilities.
So, what will I be up to in the immediate future? In September I will begin teaching a research seminar as a visiting instructor at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester. The seminar attracts undergraduates from area colleges and provides them the opportunity to explore the AAS’s rich archival collections as part of the writing of a substantial research paper. It will come as no surprise that my seminar will focus on the Civil War era. You will be hearing more about this in the immediate future as I put together the syllabus.
One of my favorite organizations here in town is Facing History and Ourselves. I made extensive use of their curricular materials on the Holocaust and the Second World War over the past two years. In the Fall they will officially release their new curriculum on Reconstruction. I have met with the team that created the curriculum and have read through the core publication that is now available to teachers. It is a phenomenal effort and one that is badly needed as we move into the 150th anniversary of Reconstruction. I will be involved with training teachers to use the curriculum and functioning as a content expert that can lecture on various aspects of the history. Explore their website for on-site and online opportunities for professional development. You won’t be disappointed.
Finally, I am going to complete my book project on the history and memory of black Confederates. As you know I’ve gone around and around with this project and even put it aside for what I thought would be for good, but it kept calling my name with every sensational news story. I am well into it and hope to have a completed draft by the end of the year. For the first time in quite a while I am actually enjoying working on it.
No doubt, joining a book writing group, which will meet monthly will keep me focused on the finish line. Our little group is called Book Squad and includes Heather Cox Richardson, Seth Jacobs, Megan Kate Nelson, Elizabeth Covert and Sara Giorgino. We’ve already met once and it promises to be an effective and enjoyable way to workshop ideas, share frustrations and offer words of encouragement for one another.
This will certainly keep me occupied for the remainder of the year. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. I still have fantasies about working in a museum and/or historic site. I am fascinated with how history is presented and consumed at historic sites and I find the most enjoyment as a historian/teacher when I am in that position. Of course, living in Boston offers numerous opportunities and you can rest assured that they will be explored.
Let me close by wishing all of my fellow history teachers a much deserved and restful summer.