Saturday, June 23
Week 2: Good Morning Miss S
I'm a teacher!! This was our first full week of being in the classroom. It's crazy, fun, and incredibly hard. I've never experienced anything close to the intense and challenging environment here. We're all running on just a few hours of sleep a night trying to absorb huge amounts of information and immediately apply it in out classrooms. Most days go something like this:
5:30am- wake up
6:45- bus to school leaves
7:20-8 - morning duty in the hallway
8:55-9:50- teach the second half of ninth grade English class
10-4pm- go to various session on classroom management, diversity, lesson planning, literacy, etc.
4- bus leaves school
6ish- get together with collaborative teaching partner to plan lessons, make copies, find resources, grade papers, write tests, etc. Sometimes interspersed with more sessions.
Sometime between 11pm and 2am- finally get to sleep
Let me tell you, it is exhausting, physically, mentally and emotionally. Some days it feels like everyone is so tense and on edge they could explode at any moment and sometimes do. The TFA "sense of urgency" is usually bordering on panic. They pretend to be ultra organized and tell us how we should be managing our time, but really everything is kind of a mess and none of the staff are getting any more sleep than we are. I know that this will somehow all be worth it in the end. There are a lot of things I absolutely hate about having every 5 minutes of my time structured for me and there have been more than a couple times I've wanted to scream/cry/punch someone, but I can't really imagine how else they could prepare us to be teachers in only 5 weeks.
The part of it that is really fun, however, is actually teaching. That 50 min in the classroom with my kids is always my high of the day, that and reading what they wrote later on. I have a long long way to go in being a better teacher and writing more effective lessons, but I feel like it's going ok and at the very least they may have absorbed something and we aren't wasting our days. This week we practiced main idea and supporting details in paragraphs and they wrote paragraphs for a job application. Then we talked about conflict in literature and read a story called "Lather and Nothing Else" which they got pretty into. Going through and analyzing the text with them is absolutely my thing, I feel so myself and exhilarated. It feels so natural to gradually draw the right answers out of them by asking the right questions and see the look in their faces when they get it and start thinking about it and realize how much meaning there is in every line of the story.
It's all about the kids! They're so smart, it makes me sad that they have to be in summer school because they had too many absences or tardies or they didn't do their work or whatever last year. These kids should not be failing and I hope that I'll be able to pass them all. The grading is actually entirely up to us- I am responsible for 20 kids passing 9th grade English this summer. eek! Next week we're going to try to talk to each student individually, I really really hope we can get them all invested in working hard in our class so they can pass because they are absolutely too smart and talented not too. After we grade their journals tonight I'll post some of the more touching/funny things they've written!
I cannot wait to get to South Dakota and have my own class. I wish I could just leave now! I really do miss South Dakota. The weather here is abysmal and I'm not to crazy about the city, but I will spare any Houstonians out there reading this and avoid elaborating. Granted I've seen very little of the city outside moody towers and my school. And the giant armadillo (you'll have to check out my flickr pics to see it!) I know I was only in SD for a week, but I'm already a little homesick for it! It's going to be a pretty amazing two years.