Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 15 2010

Posting the Positives

One day, this blog will be full of exclamation points and happy stories about good teaching and respectful children, signaling its author’s total-180-teacher-transformation from incompetence to Best Practices Queen. Until that day comes, however, you’ll have to be satisfied with only sporadic attempts at a balanced perspective—even if it’s only in the hopes that I’m not completely mortified reading this blog years from now.

I have the best roommate in the world. I don’t know how it worked out this way, but I couldn’t have hand-selected a better person to come home to. She’s articulate, beautiful, knows how to think, and works harder than I’ve ever seen anyone work (ever). We share so many of the same perspectives on life and TFA and everything, but she still manages to push me and make me re-think everything. We are roommates almost by accident, but I’m positive that it couldn’t have worked out better.

I don’t have a car, and I don’t think I’m getting one. I really, really wanted to live a solely-mass-transit or bike-riding life when I came to SA, and I’m so happy that I’ve fallen into this lifestyle. I love shopping close by, I love paying just $30 per month for my commute, and I love that I get to taste downtown San Antonio culture each morning and afternoon.

My kids are hilarious. They can make my skin crawl when they’re en masse, but I really am glad to teach such colorful individuals. They’re all brave and smart and wise and goofy, and I can’t wait to love spending time with them.

Some of my kids are quite gracious. Some of them have decided they like me, and they don’t enact their frustration at not being taught anything. I have some on-grade-level girls who finish their work early, and instead of pushing my buttons or yelling across the room, they sit quietly and do other work. (I’m soo sorry I’m not pushing you guys, I’ll get better, I promise!)

I’m nice to my kids. That’s just my positive spin on “I’m a pushover.” Humm.

I know math really well. I’m lucky to be placed in a content area that I’m confident in. Having a math background has probably helped me in more ways than I know.

My administration helps me out. There are so many frustrating things about how my school operates, but everyone’s totally looking out for me thus far. They help me when I struggle, and I’m so appreciative of this, knowing how awful things could have been.

My class sizes are deliciously reasonable. Kids are still shifting (always), but right now my biggest class has 24.

My school is rolling in it. As a failing school, we have piles and piles of funding to spend on anything and everything. I don’t have a copy limit, there’s a supply room that teachers can go into to grab pencils/colored paper/staples/glue/anything, and there’s a whole classroom FULL of supplies specifically for math. Calculators, binders, manipulatives, protractors, mini whiteboards, scissors, colored pencils, dice… everything.

I really, really love the San Antonio TFA staff. I have so much respect for every one of them, and I’m constantly re-inspired by their example. My PD is the most effective human being on the planet. She’s found some kind of crazy optimum efficiency, working unbelievably hard while still maintaining true balance, and she sees everything with razor-sharp clarity that I envy. My ED is a POWERHOUSE (in more ways than one: she ran a half-marathon with no training). Our TAL workshops have been tailored exactly to our needs, and have been so worthwhile and effective compared to what the district/school provides. From the very beginning of Induction, I’ve been repeatedly and continuously impressed with how everything San Antonio just works. These people built a corps of almost 100 from nothing, and they built it well.

I still believe I’ll get there. As depressing as I sound, I really still am hanging onto the belief that I’ll eventually be able to figure this out. I still have visions and fantasies of kids learning, of effective checks for understanding, of higher order thinking happening on a regular basis… kids sitting down…  it’ll be great.

One Response

  1. Holly

    I love this post!

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