My latest piece is up at Curious Fictions, “Finding Orson,” which appeared originally in STRANGERS AND BEGGARS.
It’s one of my teaching stories–I easily have an entire collection’s worth of stories about high school from both the teachers’ and students’ point of view.
This one takes place in a world that looks exactly like our own except that everyone has a super power of some kind that kicks in during adolescence. You can imagine what it would be like to teach a classroom where some students have already received their “gift,” while others are waiting for it to kick in.
Well, you don’t have to imagine it–you can read about it in this story.
The other item of note here is that I wrote “Finding Orson” in 2001 while attending The Colorado Writing Project at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, which was a very cool program. Connie Willis was a guest speaker. I introduced her to the group of teachers in the program. That gave me an opportunity to absolutely gush about her achievements.
What I notice most about this story now is how far grading practices have changed in less than twenty years. When I wrote it, teachers still kept physical gradebooks where they wrote down students’ progress. When I had to determine grades each quarter, I would sit with my hand-written gradebook and calculator, entering the numbers and figuring averages. Now, grades go straight into the computer where parents and students can see a constantly updated, running record of their progress. When the grading period ends, I press a button, and all the figuring is done for me, saving a couple hours of manually entering everything.
I don’t think anything else has changed in the classroom other than that in the last twenty (or sixty) years.