I'm grateful I teach at the school I do. It suits me, my style and my attention span--which some compare to a gnat's. Seriously, though, I change up what I teach almost every block. I think if I'm not too excited about what I'm teaching, how much worse is it for the kids? I'm actually supposed to LIKE this stuff!
Recently I talked to our state superintendent of public instruction. During the conversation, as she queried me about my teaching practices in an alternative school, I made my confessions. No, I don't teach Huck Finn. No, I don't teach what is considered "normal" English stuff. I try to teach what I think my kids need to learn. This year? Soft skills and resilience. Both of these ideas are more prevalent in literature than people think. And that's what I'm ultimately trying to teach my kids--how to think. How to analyze and deconstruct an argument (or construct one), how to logically express themselves, how to problem solve...basically how to be a critical thinker.
The state official laughed off my confession and said we need to think about what we're teaching (the standards) rather than how we teach it (the material). Our conversation and the follow up email she sent me confirmed to me that what I'm doing may be out of the mainstream and many English teachers probably wouldn't like it, but I'm okay with what I'm doing. I see the benefit everyday in my class when I get into a positive discussion about soft skills and teenage jobs.
Even the students like what we're doing. They see a real-world application to the learning. And that? That can make all the difference.