I have a million and one things I want to write about that I'm doing or thinking about this upcoming school year, but planning a new course (and my first AP one at that) has consumed my entire life. However, I wanted to say one thing: planning a course where I feel like I have plenty of time (maybe even too much?) is a very strange feeling. I took the AP units for US Gov't and laid them out on my calendar, adding the two VA required units (State&Local Gov, Financial Literacy) in the 4th quarter and I ended up with 11 extra blocks in the 3rd quarter based on my original ideas of how long I would have for each subject.
11 extra blocks! At 80 minutes per block, that's almost 15 hours of wiggle room in my planning. Last night as I was doing some reading in one of the AP study guides and starting to lay out my first unit, I looked at what I wanted to do in terms of introducing not only the content but some of the skills and strategies we'll be using throughout the year and felt like I needed more time to do all of that well, so I made the first unit an extra week long to allow time to properly set up the year. I was able to do this and not have to worry about running out of time. It was a strange and wonderful feeling.
Now, I understand that this course is often taught as a semester course (that's how I took it back in the day - 1st semester was US, 2nd comparative) and that's part of why I feel strangely free to stretch my wings here, but I don't care why. I'm loving the thought of actually having enough time to devote to building classroom community, teaching learning strategies and skills and reviewing without constantly hearing the tick-tock in my head from the curriculum.
I've long thought that most of our curricula try to squeeze too much into the school year, and now I'm convinced. This is what planning should be like.