Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 29 2011

Thoughts while “Actively Monitoring”

… written illegally in a composition notebook hidden beneath my Hallway Relief schedule… tricky tricky…

  • Should our ED be harder on us?
  • What can I do to help fix things?
  • What if my PD next year doesn’t inspire me like mine does?
  • How much PR work does TFA SA need to do?
  • What corps members are leaving? Why don’t I know more than what I hear through corps member gossip?
  • Why is everything in TFA so confidential and secret? Why does being “purposeful” so often mean you’re not “transparent”?
  • How can I be amazing in my classroom and still be a force of change for TFA SA?
  • How can I make change happen for kids, and still make change happen for the community?
  • Can I stay in San Antonio for a long time?
    (Success is addicting. If I see success in my classroom, I start to love it and pour myself into it. If I start to see change brewing in this city, I will stay here to be a part of it.)

I look at these kids testing so seriously and I can’t see anything BUT a desire to succeed. Here thery’re honest and vulnerable–here they can’t pretend any longer that their futuures aren’t on the line. This is the truest account of what they do and don’t care about. But they don’t know to take the earnestness of this one day and stretch in out over a year– a lifetime.

I ask anyone who thinks these kids don’t care about their future or their education to witness a day of exit-level state testing. Compare this to what you see during everyday classes, and  you’ll feel the weight of this to them.

I’m struck by the irrelevance of all these wiggling pencils and flat text on white paper. These bubbles don’t fit; the question-by-question, page-by-page plodding is so unlike these shifting people with terrained lives.

It’s not just that they’re quiet–they do get quiet sometimes, without being serious. What’s absent is the wisecracks and the collective moments. They’re not with each other here–they’re peerless people on separate paths. When you catch a kid’s eye, there’s some kind of silent acknowledgement of the task at hand–the gracious receipt of a little encouraging smile, maybe–but then averted eyes.

Slowly, familiar restlessness dawns as more and more pages flip, throats clear, and people stretching in their chairs make eye contact. Floating, my islands ground themselves again with a whispered crack or a stifled sex noise.

Whatever the morning was, it’s over now, and there’s a lot of face to save.

2 Responses

  1. Cam

    Great questions-as you know I’ve asked some of these same things but from an incoming CM perspective. Can we please make TFA SA more baller and legit? Seriously…let’s jazz our corps culture

  2. Ms. Math

    this description of kids taking a test is beautiful!

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