Heads Carolina, Tails California

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 03 2011

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

Weeks 2 & 3.

Wow. Despite all earnest intentions of managing a continually updated time, I have fallen victim to the limited hours of free time in the day. Such is the nature of TFA Institute. Friends and family fall to the wayside, and your primary focus becomes the kids you struggle to teach each day.

I really do mean to call it a struggle, although some might consider that a misnomer. It’s a struggle to crawl out of bed at 5:45 after only a few hours of sleep. It’s a struggle to get on a non-air conditioned bus to drive an hour south in the Mississippi Delta to get to your school. It’s a struggle to teach 8 amazing kids in a room without windows or a/c (my room is actually a constant 88 degree, humid furnace at all times). It’s a struggle to know how you’re growing as a teacher, and that your learning curve is a major disservice to these kids at times. It is a struggle, but it’s worth it and it’s already incredibly rewarding.

During our first week of teaching, I gave my 8 lovely students a quiz to hopefully learn more about them. I learned that many didn’t like math, or school, or had an unhealthy obsession with hot cheetos. But I learned that S wants to be a cardiologist – and is adamant about leaving her hometown. I learned that C wants to change her attitude, because she knows it’s preventing her from achieving her potential. I’ve seen that J has a great mind and is capable of so much – he’s just been allowed to feel like he can’t for so long.

The first week, my kids made some great gains. Our retest after lessons showed mastery of objectives they struggled with in class, and showed a great deal of retention (yay!). This past week, however, was hard. And I mean hard. The objectives were difficult ones to teach, yes. But I ultimately failed in finding the right ways to present the material in ways that were captivating and attainable for my students. It’s hard to feel like I didn’t waste their time – but maybe that’s just the perfectionist in me.

At any rate, I do love these kids. I still don’t “feel” like a teacher, but I definitely don’t feel like the person I was even 3, 4 weeks ago.

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