Sophomore year, I co-taught AP music theory for ESP's Delve program. I owe a lot to a much more competent coteacher and just-in-time formal instruction for anything I managed to achieve there.
That said, I had some problems. I struggled to get our two students to engage with the material (while one engaged his fingernail painfully with a folding desk). My more competent coteacher was in senior year and thus perpetually tired. My own energy felt like it was draining every Saturday when my parents brought my sister to Boston for NEC youth orchestra and I had to say, no, I wasn't going home because I had Delve the next day. By around February, I'd decided that I wouldn't teach again for Delve the next year.
At the end of April, when the next year's Delve directors were being nominated, at first it looked like there would be only one candidate. Having taught for the program, I voiced my concern:
- me: Delve is a long program, and I think it'd be really hard to do it alone. Do you have a co-director in mind?
- candidate: Not at the moment...
- ESP chair: Hey, Andrew, I nominate you for Delve.
- me: ...
Well, I got some encouragement from my friends. I rationalized that my sister would be coming here for college next year, so I'd feel less guilty about not going home on the weekends. Oh, and the original candidate had already been proven to be a much more competent director than I expected I could be, so I had backup.
A week later, ESP elected two directors: myself and a surprise candidate—another one of that year's teachers—who nominated himself on the day of the election. So when my junior year began, I found myself again occupied on Sundays. At least this time the music theory class was led by a much better teacher than me. (Since he just graduated, we're flailing in the dark for music theory teachers once again.)
Since my co-director was teaching and I wasn't, I was in charge by default once the year started. Alas, I was apparently bad at delegating, so he gradually fell out of the loop, leaving just me. Then the program suffered my neglect whenever my classes happened to be more demanding than usual. This way an embarrassing amount of information (and possibly boxes, textbooks, and worse) just vanished, never to be seen again, when I failed to be ready to handle it.
As it turns out, directing isn't any less stressful than teaching, especially when payment for AP exams is needed Thursday, SAO says (three weeks after you ask) that they'll authorize a check by Friday, the check doesn't arrive 'til Monday, and on Monday afternoon you're giving a team presentation on a 1/3 semester of a course's work. When I went to deliver said check in person, I called my teammates to warn them I might be late. After some discussion, the other team presenting that day graciously agreed to go first, and I'm quite happy they did—I made it to the classroom just as they were finishing.
(This story repeated itself when it came time to proctor AP exams. After hurrying back to campus from the test center, I arrived at the only other presentation I was giving all semester just in time to see the person before me finish.)
Often I look back and suspect the original candidate would have done a better job than I could... but I guess it's irrelevant now. All's well that ends, and so I've been trying close the book on Delve 2009-2010, to keep next year's directors from having to handle my year's unfinished business. The experience has been good for me in the sense that it's taught me much; but for ESP's sake and my own sanity, I don't think I'll direct another program.
So was it "really hard to do it alone"? You bet. I told me so.