Thursday, March 27, 2008

isn't spring break great?

I was able to go to Chicago and visit relatives and work on my comics for

I also finished "Bone" and thought it was great. A great merger of Walt Kelly style with a more contemporary feel, as well as a little bot of the Lord of the Rings.

I have a new book of comics by Billy Ireland who did comics for the Columbus Dispatch in the early part of the 20th century. They are fantasic.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

working on textbook

On a snow day we had this week I was able to meet with Anna Soter, with whom I'm collaborating on a grammar textbook. Basically, she wants to use my comics that teach grammar as part of the instructional materials. I'm in the process of revising each one, fixing all the little mistakes and idiosyncracies that I've noticed since I've created them. Thus in a short while I will have completely revised the comics available on

In the meantime, I've been reading "Bone," by a fellow Columbusite Jeff Smith. It's a huge book, but very good. A comic that everyone should read is Mister O, a simple set of tales in which the protagonist tries to cross a chasm but meets with disastrous results each time. My students find them very amusing.

The year end Comics Journal has given me lots of ideas to read. Where will I find all the time?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

how to keep your sanity as a teacher

Once I got my first job as a teacher I had romantic notions of leaving school on Friday with a backpack full of journals or papers to grade, intent on spending the weekend immersed in student work. The administrators would chuckle admiringly saying, "Boy is he a dedicated teacher!"

Then I found out that it wasn't fun to spend your weekend grading papers.

I got into some bad habits my first few years of teaching. I remember my first year spending Thanksgiving day grading comma exercises. I also got into some bad habits: I spent Sundays at the school running off copies and grading papers, feeling like I had lost one of the days of my weekend.

I grew tired of it. So what did I do? I just stopped.

Spending weekends grading papers was a habit that I had fallen into, just like any other bad habit: smoking, alcohol, checking my email too often. And the only way to stop was just to stop.

I tell my students early on in the year that the weekends is not their time, it's time that I get to spend with my family. To do otherwise is to steal time from my wife and my son.

This weekend I went sledding, attended an OSU basketball game, and went to a high school play. I also had a stack of papers that needed to be graded.

But I knew that I would get to my grading eventually. And what I have come to realize is that everything gets done eventually. I don't need to grade papers over the weekend if I spend my time at school wisely.

Don't get caught in the grading trap. Just try leaving your papers on your desk. Spend time with your loved ones. I guaruntee you will be able to enjoy your weekends more.