Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 14 2010

Just make it to November 11th.

On the way to school: I dreamed I was in a meeting with my administrators and found out I was to be “terminated.” Wishful thinking? Paranoia? Your guess is as good as mine.

First period: Revolt. My wise young lesbian interrupts me in the middle of a crappy lesson on no-one-knows-what to address the class: “Raise your hand if you’ve learned ONE thing in this class. Raise your hand, right now, if she’s taught you one thing.”   Two students kinda-sorta move their hands, one out of sincerity and the other out of solidarity. “No—something you didn’t know before. No one.” Then she turns and hurls at me the worst insult she can think of: “You have no idea what you’re doing—college student.”

Third period: It takes me half an hour to get people sitting down. It takes me another ten to give up on getting them to their assigned seats. Kids essentially TP my room (for reals) and ignore me, except when they whisper “Ms. Camel-toe” to each other or make comments about how I need to buy a lint roller.    … The usual.

Fifth period: DAY ONE. November 11th was the first day of the rest of my life: the first 40 minutes of fifth period were GOOD. Something I can look back on and smile about. It feels so sacred that I almost don’t want to go into detail, but there are highlights:

  • First period’s Wise Young Lesbian was skipping.
  • Fight about assigned seats was minimal (I caught them before they sat down).
  • My 5th Period Twin stayed awake the whole period (I made him promise he would before the bell rang).
  • My Big Personality was at the board teaching the class how to do the warm-up when my PD walked in for my formal observation.
  • My key points were logical and comprehensive.
  • I had a student recording on the board for me so I could walk around during INM.
  • I remembered to use my key points. I used them, referred to them, repeated them…
  • I actually gave explicit instructions going into guided practice. Repeated KPs again going into independent practice.
  • I paired students purposefully for guided practice. It worked.
  • There was a moment, during independent practice, when EVERYONE was doing work. No one was screaming “MISS!!,” no one was wildly misbehaving, no one was sleeping, everyone knew where to start and what to do… I had six seconds to stand there and monitor my classroom; to breathe.

Basically, I was able to think during school for the first time. Something happened, and I could teach, deliberately, instead of constantly putting out fires. It was incredible. And my PD caught it all on video. Booyah. I came home and told my roommate the incredible news: I have finally had one portion of one period on one day go well.

Seventh period: Three of my students laughed themselves to tears at another student’s first encounter with dark chocolate. We’re talking 20 minutes of straight laughter. Tears gushing. “Miss! Miss, do you EAT that stuff?!?” (more laughter) “Can I get a drink of water?” (they laugh harder) “It’s like poison!” (apparently the funniest thing anyone’s ever said).

Eighth period: Sexual-grunting-noises interjected after every pause in instruction. Marker-fight started between my Tiniest student and her bestie. Paper balls flying through the air every time I turn around.   … the usual.

2 Responses

  1. Hurray!!!!! So happy to hear about period 5!!!! Love that you are so reflective and are capturing both what WORKS and what doesn’t… how were Thursday and Friday? Looking forward to hearing how they respond to more of the active learning strategies… hope this week has more 5th period moments!

  2. Giselle

    Isn’t it great when you have those brief glimpses of “I really AM doing a good job here?” I have those from time to time, but more often than not, I have to remind myself to keep fighting the good fight for my kids…it’s so incredibly hard…but so incredibly necessary!

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Region
San Antonio
Grade
High School
Subject
Math

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“The minute you think of giving up, think of the reason you held on so long.” - John Maxwell

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