updates for 05.08.2011
School lets out in exactly 1 month from today (or tomorrow...I'm not really sure). I have 1 month left to continue doing right by my kids. I "lost" one student because of a family trip to Mexico (he withdrew but I sent work with him so he won't be too far behind when he returns). I received a new student last week...a very smart, sweet little girl (I still can't wrap my mind around the concept of changing your child's school with 5 weeks left in the year, but I guess it can't be helped and I am no one to judge). My summative review with my principal was amusing, for lack of a better word. She pretty much wasted a 1/2 hour of my time to tell me that I need to ask for help before I need it (um...I've done that many times...I never get the help...whatever). She asked what I had in mind for next year. I answered that I planned to stay in the 2nd grade. I didn't say I'd like to stay, I didn't say I hoped to stay. I have taken a more assertive stance with her, and it seems to have worked, although that remains to be seen in the long run. I decided a long time ago that I would not let her make me ill, that I would not let her stand in the way of what's best for my class...I've had to be subversive, but my kids are kicking butt and taking names and that's all that matters. My little second grader beat out the rest of the school (yes, even the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders) for the honor of representing our school in the district bilingual spelling bee. I am getting results and the data shows it. That's all I care about: that my kids are learning and that they'll be ready for 3rd grade and beyond. Other than that, well...
Friday night was prom night for our students at Central VPA. We hosted the senior prom in the Starlight Ballroom of the historic Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis’ glitzy Central West End. The 11th floor ballroom was absolutely beautiful with a scenic view out the 128 foot wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. A quality catering table complete with an assortment of appetizers and small meal items including fresh fruit and vegetable trays, shrimp cocktails and other higher-end standard fare... <continue reading at North Park Street>
There is a woman who is currently a New Leaders for New Schools Resident Principal at the charter school where I work. Before becoming a resident principal, she was a music major in college and then taught elementary school in Hawaii for two years through TFA. She can't be much older than 25, yet she will be the principal of an urban school next year. Most of the staff she supervises will probably be older or considerably older than her. I don't doubt that she probably has great potential--otherwise, NLNS probably wouldn't have accepted her into the program. But is it a good thing that TFA provides this fast track to the top that (I assume Pre-TFA) used to be earned through years of teaching and other administrative experience?
Sometimes, I get so overwhelmed with life that I can't even blog. That's always a problem, since weeks like this are also the most full of worthwhile writing material, but I really can't help it. It's not even like I was that stressed out this week... I was just too busy to do anything more than breathe for myself. So here is the highlights reel: 1) I finished my Master's degree. This means I'll get paid more next year, I won't have to write any more papers, and I'll be able to use that extra time to maybe possibly be an actual human being. It also means that I gave a kid a pencil today, and he responded, "Thank you, Your Master-ty." That moment made the last two years being a full-time student and full-time teacher absolutely worth it. 2) I finished my Teach For America two-year commitment. We had our Alumni Induction, got dressed up, ate great food, and celebrated ourselves for awhile. One friend of mine made the speech, and another played/sang an incredible song he wrote. I was really proud of them, and in general just wowed by the amazing humans with whom I've spent the last two years. 3) I GOT A JOB. (Maybe I should have put that one first. I am really excited.) To be precise, I actually got offered two jobs in three days, after not hearing anything from anyone for a couple of very stressful weeks. I get to choose the job I like better, which makes me feel extremely fortunate. More on that another day. 4) I'm officially moving to Denver...next month. That's where my job offers are, and my future roommates are house-hunting this weekend. I was thinking I would have to change the name of my blog to "mathinco", but that's not happening. It takes everyone forever to realize that I'm Math in AZ rather than some jibberish word or name, so I don't think having the wrong state abbreviation is going to cause much trouble. 5) This week was Teacher Appreciation Week. I hope you remembered to thank a teacher who matters to you. I got some incredibly thoughtful, sweet cards from some of my kids, and many of them gave specific examples of things I've done for them instead of general thank-yous. I had a lot of willing-back-tears moments in class when I read them. 6) I had an AWESOME talk with mathlovergrowsup about math. We just nerded out hardcore about fractions and rates of change and how kids think and learn and answer questions. We're getting really into the idea of creating something that would make the sharing of math resources efficient and valuable and not overwhelming. (What does that even look like?) I love talking about math past the place where you're just answering questions. How's that for a week?
All I can do is read stuff about TFA..while I should be doing my school work, but never the less...EXCITED!! One thing I have been doing is reading things on the internet which has created some mixed feelings inside of me. Obviously I read things written with a grain of salt because people always have problems with things even if they are the most perfect things in the world. However, people have some pretty unflattering things to say about TFA. Here are some of the comments that have stayed on my mind because I have questioned if they apply to me? 1. "TFA is just a holding pen or resume builder for over privileged Ivy leaguers".....I went to a good school, not an Ivy League, but a tier one school and I did not have an under privileged childhood. My parents are working class and while we never had extra money we always had enough. I didn't know what I wanted to do when I started college and to be honest I still don't. i have no intention of staying in education forever, but I also don't have any intentions of doing something else. I have had very few jobs in my life that I have loved and I've always worked...waitressing, grounds keeping, store clerk, nurse's aid, and the list goes on. However, teaching at summer camp for inner city kids for little pay, early hours, all summer was the best job I have ever had. So while TFA may be a "holding pen" in a sense for me I am not doing it to help for another application. 2. "TFA-ers think they are going to ride in on their white horse and pull a Hilary Swank and get to be the hero and then abandon thee kids to go get their good fortune".....Well, Freedom Writers surely does make me cry my eyes out and I would love to make a difference in the lives of children the way that movie portrayed her. I don't think it will be easy either, but it didn't seem that easy for Hilary either. I want to succeed to benefit my children and so that I can take a small bite out of the education inequalities that plague this country. however, I am not naive, there is no such thing as a selfless act. Doing a good thing will make me feel great and therefor I am reaping my own good fortune too. 3. "People do TFA on a whim and don't really want to get involved in the world of education".....When I still felt like I was drowning in questions of what are you ding when you graduate? or even worse what are you doing with your life? i went to see Wes Moore speak at my school. He is the author of a "quasi sociology study" on the lives of two boys named Wes Moore from the same area of East Baltimore. One of these boys becomes this famous Fulbright scholar author and the other is serving a life time sentence in prison. He talks about the different influences these boys had in their lives: their families, their education, and their friends. When i saw him speak he said, in response to what should I do after college type question (not asked by me...I swear), "it doesn't matter what you do, it just matters that what you do is important." So on a whim i decided to apply for Teach for America, so I could do something important. 4. "TFA hires all these privileged kids who quit because they can't handle it".....All the blogs and articles I read by people who had dropped out of TFA are what scared me the most. I really don't want to fail. What if I can't discipline my kids? What if I can't handle having no social life and working 80 hour weeks? Yes, people who quit wrote they just couldn't handle 80-120 hour weeks...O : (that's a startled face btw) I'd like to point out that a week has 168 hours in it and I like to sleep and watch my occasional T.V. show. But...even with all those butterflies trapped in my stomach...I AM SO EXCITED!!! I can't wait to be the leader of my own little troop of learners and to struggle for small rewards and to do the best I can for the next two years or more. While I feel bad that I am so unsure of my life plans and so unsure of where I will be in five years, I am sure of my decision despite the nasty things you read on the internet to deter you from confidence. "All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."- MLK
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