Down to the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 31 2011


I was warned about the month of October. I have also been planning on posting for a while now, but my mood has been so up and down since my last post that I haven’t been able to decide what to write about and what the mood of my post will be. So I decided to go for pure honesty with no greater purpose or large “point” I am trying to make.

This month has sucked for the most part. It has been long. It has been hard. It has been frustrating. Thank goodness for my roommates, my friends from home, the loving second years who help support me even from 2+ hours away, and the veteran teachers who take care of me at school. To be honest, I can’t even remember what has happened for the most part this month. I know that one day this week I kicked an entire class of kids out of my room. I know that a student threatened me and then told another teacher he wanted to beat me up at walmart. He is no longer at our school. I know that I realized The Wonder Years is on netflix instant and I have been using it to transport myself out of SouthArk a lot.

I have had a lot of people recently ask me what I think of our town, our school, our kids, etc. I never know quite what to answer. I normally say something like “it is really different” or “it is hard to be away from home but everyone here is really great.” These are both TRUE answers of course, but they don’t really capture my feelings on this place, this job, this life.

The day to day is getting a little bit easier, I think. I have stopped planning ENTIRELY day to day. I have been able to get some stuff ready for most of the week on the weekend, which has been saving me a lot of trouble during the week. I have changed a lot of how I am interacting with my kids, which leaves me less frustrated and exhausted at the end of the day. I am extremely calm in the classroom, even when I am telling an entire class to get out of my room after about half the kids have caused a scene laughing at the other kids getting in trouble. I am not tolerating disruption as much as I had been before. But are my kids really learning? No. They aren’t learning much at all. I was joking with my parents about how I shouldn’t get fussed at by TFA for not submitting my data because they would not want it anyway. My kids are not improving. They are not on track to be hugely successful by the end of the year. There is a good chance we won’t make our AYP for Geometry and will be on school improvement next year. And I don’t really know what else to try. I try something a little different every single day. I am trying to figure out how to motivate my kids. I am trying to figure out how to get them to remember what the word perpendicular means and what a linear pair is and how many degrees there are in a triangle. I am really really trying. But I haven’t seen much in the way of academic success.

What I HAVE seen is some kids speaking to each other in a nicer way. Or at least noticing when they yell shut up across the room or tell another kid they are stupid. I have been putting a LOT of energy into helping my kids realize when they are saying something that would not be appropriate in a work environment and giving them alternative things to say and ways to react. Is it happening as fast as I would like it to? No. But do I have a couple of kids every day saying “Other student, would you PLEASE stop talking you are making it hard for me to work” instead of “man SHUT UP or I am going to turn around and smack you”. Improvement, right? Transformational change? Probably not. Helping them succeed on the end of course exam or preparing them for algebra II? Almost certainly not. But will one of my students have a slightly better chance of holding down a job if I can get them to say please instead of just yelling? Maybe. And here’s to hoping.

Last week I had one kid tell me he absolutely hated my class and a few kids tell me I was there favorite teacher ever. You win some you lose some, I guess?

I will leave all my readers with a little treat. I asked my kids to write 5 sentences about what they want their lives to be like when they are 25. Here is one response I got. I selected it because the student was so excited to share it with the class that I figure I should share it with more people. I am typing it just as he wrote it.

“When I’m 25 I want to be a millionare and help my family out the struggle and get off of waifere and food stamps. have my family in condo’s with nice rides, and with a little bread in they pocket. Then have a good education and unique jobs, but also ima still be against the laws or the boys. Ima still do me. Ima always remember what my uncle told me “Never trust a female because they will end up taking your $”.

If that doesn’t make you both smile and cry, I don’t know what will.

One Response

  1. Hannah

    I love this, you’re amazing. Call more for friend talks!

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