Friends, we’ve been part of a Classical Conversations homeschool community since my oldest was 5. He’s now 13 and in Challenge A. All along, I thought I would love to direct a Challenge class one day. Well, everything lined up for me to direct Challenge B next year. My oldest will be entering Challenge B with me and I’m very excited. Most of his class are friends he’s had for his whole life, and just dear families to us. I know it’ll be a great group for this kind of beginning.
Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how I’ve begun prepping to direct. With 5 children, there is not a lot of extra time in my days, so I knew I would need to plan to prepare. First, you should know, I am following an AMAZING, existing director. She has been directing B at our campus for 3 years. Knowing that I was coming after her, she has been faithfully pouring into me all year. She’s passed on books, printouts, links, and so much experience and wisdom. She is moving up to direct a higher level Challenge so her position became available. In many ways, it seems like a perfect fit.
Here are 6 specific things I’m doing to prepare:
1. Sitting in on Challenge classes. Each director has their own classroom and organizational style, so I’ve made it a point to sit in on each level currently at my campus. A friend who started directing before me did the same thing, and visited different campuses. If you can, I think it’s worth the effort. In addition, I’ve been asking the directors lots of questions and looking at their notebooks, and their guides, and their carts for campus, so I can explore all the ways they organize. When something seems like it’ll work for me, I make a note of it.
2. Working ahead. There are some things I can’t do until after my training at practicum, but in the meantime there is still plenty. I’m reading the books from the Challenge B list (& making notes in the books), memorizing Latin vocabulary and rules, and learning the Cornell style of note taking.
3. Getting in the right mindset. I’m re-reading The Question by Leigh Bortins to make sure I can, with wisdom, approach my class of growing 13-14 year olds. They are in a unique stage of development, and I want to be fresh in remembering what that’s like. It will help me set appropriate expectations and activities. It will be more fun for all of us! Also, studying and knowing the classical model for rhetoric will better enable me to lead the group from a classical education perspective, as it’s intended. I want to know the canons of rhetoric and the 5 common topics like the back of my hand.
4. Knowing and Praying for the class. As I said in the beginning, most of these students I know quite well from years of deep family friendships. They truly hold a special place in my heart already, but I know directing them will add a fun and unique aspect to our relationship. I want to lead them well. I want to know their strengths and weaknesses, so we can best operate as a body of Christ in class. I’m praying for the students and their families, for their friendships with each other, for growth and maturity, and for spiritual leaders in the classroom.
5. Looking for planning times. I’ve been noticing the general rhythm of our family days, so I can think ahead to when I will best be able to plan throughout the school year without disrupting our family time too much. So far, I’ve seen an hour on Wednesday evenings when I’ll typically be free to work uninterrupted, as well as a couple hours on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Existing directors have told me to anticipate about 5 hours of prep work each week, if I’ve worked deeper some over the summer.
6. Setting Goals. Starting now, I’ve set goals to accomplish each of these tasks. For example, I want to read 1 book every 2 weeks. Some will take less time, but it gives me wiggle room during the really busy weeks. I also want to memorize 10 Latin vocabulary words and 5 Latin grammar rules each week. I think my Challenge Aer will enjoy quizzing me! Plus I’ll be watching videos on Logic each week, as this is totally new territory for me.
If you’re a Challenge director of any level, I’d love to hear your best advice as I begin this journey. Or if you’re new to all of this or thinking about joining, I’d love to hear your questions or comments too. Drop it in the comments.