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updates for 07.14.2011

11 new posts today

I believe in TFA.

Today my students took their end of institute summative assessments and they went from a 51% diagnostic score in math to a 80.6% summative score. I don't care who you are, that is amazing. I am beyond proud of my Second Grade Superstars. I feel like along the way I doubted myself and my abilities to get them to where they needed to be. When I looked at our OSAT scores this evening I realized, holy crap, we did it! Not everyone reached their goal, but they made HUGE gains in attempting to get there! Esteban, the boy I spoke about a couple posts ago. He ran up to me when he finished his math assessment, a HUGE smile on his face, and said, "I CAN do it!!!" The word "can" has been our main topic of discussion with Esteban because every time he felt frustrated he said, "I can't do it!" Today, I finally saw in him the belief that he could do it, and he did. There are so many success stories, and a few not-so-success stories but all-in-all this summer was 100% worth every bit of lost sleep, frustration, and struggle. I have become a better teacher. I know this because, I truly see what my students are doing each and every day that is showing me they are learning. I know they are leaving me tomorrow, ready for second grade. I really didn't think I would be saying that, especially around week 3, but I am, and so dang proud of it!! I hope that everyone gets an amazing institute experience like mine. In the end I hope everyone can say... I believe in TFA.


Multiplying fractions, y'all

This week has been pretty crazy for a wide variety of reasons. Reason #1 being, the students have been majorly struggling with both my math lessons and those of my co-teacher. Today we realized that our students can't compute the area of a triangle because they can't correctly multiply with decimals. They can't correctly multiply with decimals because they can't do double-digit multiplication. And, oh yeah, they can't do multiplication because they don't know their times tables and they struggle with multi-digit SUBTRACTION. Wow, guess there's that 'achievement gap' thing that TFA keeps telling us about. Despite these difficulties, we did have a little fun today during academic intervention time, while we were furiously practicing division and multiplication skills in small groups. I taught my group the multiplying fractions song that I learned in sixth grade (and still remember!). It goes, "Multiplying fractions, that's no problem! First you do the top, then you do the bottom!" My kids were not impressed with the song OR my performance of it.  P., who seemed to have unlimited amounts of energy today and had been consistently driving me crazy, informed me that he would make up a much better version of the multiplying fractions song. He thought about it for all of 30 seconds and then performed, complete with hand gestures and plenty of attitude, "Multiplying fractions, that's EASY, y'all First ya do the top Then ya do the bottom Y'ALL!" Just to clarify, he added that last "y'all" as kind of an afterthought.  But I really think it added a lot to the rendition.


The danger of interesting word problems

(written 2 days ago) Our "orderly" classroom devolved into a heated debate over the merits of Beyonce and Jay-Z today...but it was totally my fault. I started teaching sixth grade math today and our first objective was "extending patterns in data tables." Thrilling. I decided to make all of our practice and assessment problems related to things my students would want to buy.  So, my example on the board to start the lesson was a table showing the prices of tickets to a Beyonce concert. BIG MISTAKE. Not a mistake because the students weren't interested. A mistake because they were TOO interested, and they had major grievances with the incorrect data in the problems. For example, I wrote that one ticket to Beyonce's concert would cost $34.50. Throughout solving the problem on the board I heard a general chorus of, "Ms. S! Ms. S! Those tickets would NEVER be 34 dollars! You  crazy!" Then, my co-teacher started his lesson and continued the example, comparing the ticket prices for Jay-Z to the ticket prices of Beyonce in a combination chart. That's when the debate got going: "Jay-Z's tickets would be more expensive! He's got more albums!" "No way, Beyonce's would be more, she is sooo much better!" And so on and so forth. The actual math concepts in the lesson didn't go over as well as they could have...but at least they were engaged and invested?


My Wish

♫♪ My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to.  Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small and you never need to carry more than you can hold.  And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to I hope you know somebody loves you and wants the same things too, yeah this, is my wish ♫♪ Thank you Rascal Flatts for that wonderful song for such a great experience.  I truly wish the best for each and every one of my students that I have met and had to pure pleasure of teaching this summer, even the ones that I spent more time giving consequences to than getting to know. As institute is coming to a close, I have had some moments to reflect and take in the past 5 weeks.  Doing so before this point is nearly impossible with all of the information that is being thrown at us, and the unbelievable amount of work that was on our plates.  I am currently in my room watching TV (which I had totally forgot about basically for the past 5 weeks) and listening to a good Delta thunderstorm!  This is perfect to take some time to reflect on the roller coaster of emotions that I have been through in the past 5 weeks. First and foremost, I am exhausted.  These kids exhausted me so much but in good ways!  Each and every one of my students IS going to 1st grade in just 2 weeks!  (more on starting school in 2 weeks in a bit)  I am beyond excited about the fact that each one of my students is prepared and ready to go and beyond joyed that I have been a part of their development.  When we talk about Friday being the last day of summer school, my students become upset and ask to be in my classroom in the fall (one of them will be since he hasn’t gone through kinder yet -- so he is the exception of each and everyone going to 1st).  A mere 5 weeks ago, my students hated being in the classroom, and they are now asking for homework and more work to do in class.  Some of them even asked if they could take the test over again because they thought that it was “fun!” I went to my school and my classroom for my fall placement the other day and actually got to go in!  It is so cute with bilingual murals all over the walls and the cutest classrooms with brick walls and wooded floors.  My classroom is not one of these -- but it is in the new wing of the school. :) I’m not Miss Honey --- I’m not Miss Honey in the totally Matilda super sweet uber patient (although my CMA has said that she admires my patience -- I’m glad I look patient when my blood is boiling on the inside)  way that she is in the movie, but I am learning that it doesn’t matter when I am in front of such adorable students!  I may not have a Miss Honey personality, but I am discovering what it is going to take as far as dedication and work to make sure that my students become readers, writers and problem solvers.  This also means that I have discovered what it means and what will not be effective for students at this age -- like whole group instruction.  The institute formula for students is great in that there is a lot of information that can be given to them in such a short amount of time, but students at this age are just not developmentally able to sit and listen in those teeny tiny chairs for more than roughly 10 minutes (and that is pushing it) I can’t wait to start setting up my classroom in the next week!  I have great TFA alum in my school that are welcoming me with open arms in making sure that I have found housing, have classroom materials (I was just GIVEN about 20 books the other day -- thank you J!), and letting me into the school to peek around and see what I have to work with.  Setting up a classroom and being ready for the first day of school is VERY overwhelming at the present time, but I know that it will be worth it in the end.  After our LS (literacy session)  the other day it was just amazing and terrifying about the amount of things that I have to do in the next 2 1/2 weeks! On top of expanding my knowledge about education and teaching practices institute has taught me humility, grit & zest (to please the TFA lingo) and acceptance.  Each one of my students came to me this summer with such different home lives then anything that I have ever experienced and some come from homes that are not conducive to them becoming successful members of our society, but they still come to school with their dimples, pretty smilies, missing teeth, shoes on the wrong feet and sleepy eyes ready to  learn more about reading and math!  We have been taught through our DCA session that we roll with it and do not let it become a crutch for us or our students and to not feel sorry for them, because it is their reality and there is nothing that we can do to change that in this moment.  What we CAN do it educate them to the best of our abilities. When I first discovered that I was going to be teaching Kinder I was a bit disappointed because it was different from the secondary spanish placement that I was originally assigned.  My first thought was “I won’t get to see these kids off to college” or “I won’t be able to see that kid turn their life around.”  Now my attitude has changed tremendously.  I can start these kids out with the right attitude about education and start to instill in them just how important education can be in their lives and where education can take them. The next piece that I have learned in institute is that really tough questions and situations are definitely coming my way!  I have had to mentally process a student being the recipient of corporal punishment for getting sent to the office, being called black by a student (I am very clearly a white woman) and being asked why I am white.  To all of which I have responded in different ways.  I definitely am grateful for having these experiences during institute because my 1st year is going to be filled with so many situations that I’m glad I’ve gotten these ones out of the way in the first 5 weeks. My parents are coming down to the Delta next week to help me set up my classroom (hopefully I’ll be able to get in) and get my house set up!  We are 90% sure that we have this house that we looked at!  I’m excited to be living with teachers who are not teaching elementary because I think that I’ll get a good feel of what they are going through with students of a different age.  And while they may see students transform before their eyes, I know that I can do all that is in my power to leave a lasting impression on my students. All in all I have really enjoyed my institute experience.  The work load, the lack of sleep, the mosquito bites (still only 1 in 5 weeks!), the fire alarms, the teaching and reteaching, the tears, the frustrations, everything is worth it knowing that these kids are heading to 1st grade prepared.  I have definitely had my share of trials and tribulations here in these 5 weeks, but I will miss this experience.  I have had a great roommate, met amazing people and had my heart melted by some really sweet, smiling 6 year olds! Leaving the people that I have clung to for the past 5 weeks is going to be the most difficult part.  Being apart of the Delta Corps we all know that “Delta time” is something that we just come accustom to but the Delta now covers hundreds of miles in Arkansas and Mississippi, and two great people that I have become close with are now placed about 10 minutes from the Louisiana border.  We will all be such an immense support for each other either way, because we have gone through this huge period of growth within ourselves, and know/can empathize with what each other is going through.  I will miss all of them dearly, but it will just add to the amount of people that I have to skype with on Sundays :)


Leadership and Taking Responsibility

There was a little bit of confusion with kids staying after school today, and I think some parents got upset. I don't actually even know the full story, but I think some teachers kept kids who weren't supposed to stay and some people didn't make phone calls that were supposed to be made. I'm not sure my principal had any direct role in the situation, but he wrote an email to the entire staff tonight. It included the sentence, "I want to apologize for today and I take full responsibility for everything that went wrong." He then went on to detail the steps we would take moving forward to make sure things go more smoothly. A couple days before that, I was talking to him about how impressed I've been at the school. I meant it as a compliment of him and his leadership, but he refused to take it. All he would ever say was, "Yes, we are doing a great job" or, "You know why I think things are going well? We all work together as such a great team." Ladies and gentlemen, step right up and check this out: A leader who unambiguously says "I" when things go wrong and says "we" when things go well. Maybe I actually just want to be this guy. For all that I loved my old school, "responsibility" was a foreign concept to all of us. Teachers blamed bad teaching on administrators not being helpful enough. Administrators blamed bad teaching on teachers not being competent enough. Teachers blamed bad discipline on administrators not dealing well with students sent to the office. Administrators blamed bad discipline on teachers not dealing well enough with things inside their classrooms. Teachers would happily blame the students for all performance and behavior problems, and everyone could always blame District if worse came to worse. I can't even tell you how many bitchfests were happening at any given moment. While there were people who were delightful exceptions, it was exceedingly rare to hear someone say, "I take full responsibility for what went wrong." I wonder what we could have been if more of us had?


Google Maps and hidden corridors

So I'm in Beantown this week searching for an apartment.  Let me tell you, I've always been the one who just signs on the dotted line.  My roommates (whom I will always love for this) normally put in the legwork and find the beautiful place we call home. 

This time, my new roommate is working out of state and it is my turn to find the apartment.  Oy. 

But, I think we'll find a fantastic place.  And the only reason I can find these places is with my Google maps app on my phone.  I've normally been the person who HATED when technology could find you in places (I refuse to let bars scan my id because then "the man" knows where I am) but without my google maps, I would have been so lost.  And apartmentless. 

I also got a chance to check out my new school building today.  I had actually never been there or seen it, so I trekked up to the gargantuan campus (I had visions of the school from Sister Act) and wandered around the 3 stories of this huge place, weaving in and out of rooms.  I found anterooms between rooms that seem to be begging to become offices.  I found hidden corridors and staircases.  I even frolicked on the stage for a bit.

But the main reason I fell in love with my school is because after I looked around, and had a sneaking thought in my head about what middle schoolers could do in this place, my principal said to me, "Yeah.  There's a lot of places for the middle schoolers to sneak around and kiss."

That's EXACTLY what I was thinking. 


All that I'm after is Life full of Laughter

And I'm a little concerned that I haven't picked the right profession. Because for as much as I laugh till I cry with my collab (do the dorob), it seems this gets more difficult every day. For example, today I led reading again. I feel like I'm a pretty successful performer all things considered. I was a theatre major so even though I was managing the backstage areas, I know how to get creative or dramatic when called upon. I spent eight solid years with the most dramatic people I know but I wouldn't have traded it for the world. My friends from high school are still some of my best, closest friends in the entire world. When I stop and consider the fact that I'm 22 and I have people in my life that I have been friends with for 7 or 8 years... wow I am blessed. They are the people who will be toasting at my wedding and standing up with me at the Christening of my children. I cherish everyone of those relationships and know they are worth more than anything. But there is a special kind of relationship that forms when you spend - quite literally - every waking hour in the same place. I am so grateful for the people from various regions who make up our collaborative this summer. I realize from other corps members and blogs that the collab to which you are assigned can make or break your experience. One of my friends here at Institute has had *the* most roller coaster experience because of her collab group. The strong personalities and level of stress thrown together into small rooms with volatile students can lead to some sticky situations, awkward compromises or straight up shouting matches. For example, my friend here had her collab split in half  - so now there are two of them. Personality wise, this is a big plus since some of the people in her group were butting heads. But now my friend is writing twice as many lesson plans and responsible for twice as much student development while receiving only half of the attention from her faculty adviser. I think everyone would benefit from more personal attention; all our students certainly do. Anyhow, back to reading. I read Berenstain Bears and The Truth which was one of my favorites as a child. I acted it out, I threw water bottles on the floor, I had the students interacting and I only went slightly over my budgeted time. The shared reading was a complete disaster and I was lucky that I only had four kids. My two girls were ready and raring to go. The boys were flat out defiant. R declared he could not work with the girls and they were bothering him. D just was a lump who wouldn't move or talk to me. Both boys demanded to be in the other reading group, which was calmly, quietly!, reading - a mirage of what my group should like. I stuck to my guns and told them my expectations. I repeated myself that I had given very clear directions and they were to rise and sit in their assigned seat. I gave R one opportunity to work on his own and when I checked on him he had nothing written. I made them move their clips and I made them be compliant. It only took forty five minutes. Well after reading had ended. At least I followed through. My students can expect me to be consistent. I told R he had to sit and work with me during lunch just like D had on Monday. I did what I had to do, but I cried a little afterwards. This is a stressful position (as we've said before). I cheer when my students pass assessments and I shrivel a little inside when I hear that their dad got out of jail but never came home. But in all honesty, I feel so much better when we just laugh.


Well at least I learned something in summer school...

Today marks the last day of real teaching at institute. My spirits are lifted, and most everyone else's spirits seem lifted. Tomorrow we give our final assessment, and on Friday we will spend most of the day talking with our kids about their future plans and what they have learned this summer etc. I have spent a lot of time over the last few days worrying about how much my kids really learned about algebra 1 this summer. Despite all the data we have collected, I have no idea how differently my kids will perform on the end of summer assessment than they did on the assessment at the beginning of the summer. It seems like every single day is so different, and I feel like they could show up for their assessment tomorrow and remember everything we have done or nothing we have done. I guess only time will tell. Thinking about them and what they have learned has gotten me thinking about myself and how much I have learned in the last 4 or 5 weeks. It has been a long, emotional, fun, and painful at times process. Here are the top ten things I am taking away from this summer: 1. I am going to have to be a lot stricter than I ever thought I would be. Before we started teaching, everyone here said that we needed to be very serious about class rules and giving consequences. Did I listen? No. Does it show in my class? Yes. Last week I got frustrated enough with all the side chatter and calling out during class that I started to put my foot down. However, the kids have been allowed to do it all summer so now they are getting in trouble and don't really understand why. I am trying to be as clear as possible with them, but I changed my expectations during the middle of the summer. Which isn't really fair. I don't want to be a teacher with a lot of rules, but I now know I have to be. There needs to be a specific way of doing EVERYTHING, from leaving the room to getting a pencil. I never thought I would need this, but now I know I do. The first few days in my classes in El Dorado are going to look extremely difficult from the way my first few days here looked. And ultimately, I think this will build an environment that is better for the kids. I have done a disservice to my kids this summer by allowing them to talk during class when I am teaching and call out answers. I will not let this happen again. 2. High schoolers are younger than you think. Yesterday two of my kids threw chocolate milk on each other during lunch. Enough said. 3. Organization is your best friend. I have never had to deal with so many millions of papers and files on my computer in my life as here. I can't imagine what it is going to be like when I have 150 students instead of 5. I am not by nature a terribly organized person. Organized chaos was more of my style before I got here, but I have quickly come to the realization that when you are responsible for more people than just yourself, it isn't enough. Hello binders and folders for everything! 4. Math students need structure. I have always understood and emphasized the importance of showing your work in math. The student and the teacher both need to see how the student arrived at the answer and where the mistakes occurred. But this is even more critical for kids who are missing a lot of the fundamental math understandings. Since I am not a very organized person when I am doing math and I don't like math procedures enough, I have failed to give my students all these things. And they need them. They need to know EXACTLY how their work should look every time. It needs to be second nature to them to write their work a certain way and do one step at a time because if it is not, they will skip parts of the problem. Or do something crazy like randomly add or leave out a variable. In the Fall, every student will know exactly how their work should look for every problem they do. I will work through all my examples in an extremely structured and consistent way, and I will expect them to do the same. Once they have demonstrated mastery, I will probably allow them to "do their own thing" a little bit more, but there is no question that at the beginning of the year I will require my students not only to show their work but also to work through all their problems in a specific way. It will make TFA happy to know that I stumbled upon this realization by looking at exit ticket data. The kids following structures from one class to the next did better in the end, even if they didn't get the concept as quickly as the other students. 5. Students have memories like goldfish. I have found myself repeating the statement "we JUST did this. You JUST showed me you know it" too many times. 6. Teaching is hard. Teaching students who are significantly behind is even harder. Figuring out how to work on their basic skills while teaching new concepts is the hardest. 7. Every day is a new chance. I have had some awful days here where I leave school thinking I failed my students and my students hate me. They always come back the next day ready to go, and I get a chance to redeem myself. 8. The pressure of being responsible for others weighs on you. And it is heavy. If I have a bad day, my students don't learn the objective for the day. If they don't learn the objective, it becomes that much harder for them to be successful in the class. Ultimately, I need to get them ready to graduate high school and do whatever it is they want to do after that. Man. That is heavy. I can't imagine what it is like to be a parent. 9. A support system is critical. Have I cried a lot while I have been here? Yes. This shouldn't be a surprise for anyone who knows me. But the best thing is knowing that I have someone to talk to. Everyone has their days or their weeks, and knowing that when you have yours there will be someone there for you makes it so much less bad. I honestly don't think you could make it here without close friends and without being able to reach out for help. It sounds dumb and corny, but it is true. 10. You don't know as much as you think you do. Have an open mind. Try new things. I probably don't know best, and I might never know best. I am 21 years old, and I have no idea what I am doing. I imagine it will be a long while before I do know what I am doing, and I am ok with that. On that note, here are a couple pictures. El Dorado High School. My future school. I will put up pictures of the inside later. It is the most beautiful school that I have ever seen. I am so lucky. A sunflower field outside of Lyon Elementary, my summer school site. These are EVERYWHERE in Coahoma County. I have never seen anything like it., My house in El Dorado. Can't wait to move in!


Who sings the Star Spangled Banner in the shower?

Apparently, the same person who sings Katy Perry's Teenage Dream. Brava to you, for being so cheerful at 12:30 in the morning. It occurred to me as I was in the shower this evening (and yes, I did block time into my Google calendar and mark it Urgent) that this all comes down to people. There are some of the most intense, self critical, empowered people I know in this organization. Which totally makes sense since we are the archetype that TFA is looking for. They want people like us who care enough to be up until 1:47 in the morning - sitting alone in a fluorescent-lit common room comparing exemplars to lesson plans in order to figure out how to improve an entire guided practice that has a slash mark through it. I can see how people need relationships with people outside of TFA in order to survive this. But there is a dichotomy in that we know they can never really understand what we are going through. I went to an all girls high school, and let me tell you, I have never seen a group of people more stir crazy for people they can't see as my fellow corps members. But this is a gig that can ruin relationships. I warned all my friends right off the bat - I could take you through my week in real time. I could whine your ear off and glow with such pride as I talk about my kids. But I'm limiting myself to one story a day. They didn't choose this and sometimes, I remind myself that it's not fair to inflict this on them. There are stellar relationships that can be borne out of the movement - take most of our staff members. While it's always heartwarming to hear about the corps member weddings and babies (and puppies... we spend all day with children, why would we want another one at home?) I know the reality is that most relationships struggle. And it's more than the typical long distance deal. If I may, I will use some of my fellow 2011s to illustrate my meaning. There is the girl who always answers her phone to say, "Hey, didn't want you to think I'm ignoring you. I'm lesson planning. Can I call you when I'm done?" News flash: we are never done. It's in the email sent from a loving boyfriend - "I though of lots of things to say to you but since you don't have time to talk, I'll write them to you instead." We all ooh and aww and laugh but underneath, there is more than a tinge of sadness. We are losing touch with the outside world. This bubble is consuming us. It's in the way that relationships end because asking someone to stick through this just isn't fair. It's when you tell a story and your audience just stares at you a little bit, trying to figure out what exactly was so funny/poignant/emotional/irritating/brain-numbing. It's how you casually pepper your speech with a language totally foreign to anyone on the outside. It's in the way I want someone to hold me as I drift off to sleep and tell me I did a great job today. Instead, I restlessly toss in a twin extra long bed reflecting on my failures and what I still need to print before I catch the bus. Still being in a serious relationship was something I was originally anticipating when I got this position. It wasn't meant to be for a variety of reasons (having to call 911 on someone is not a sustainable part of any relationship) but I spent a lot of time considering how I would handle the work-life balance when you live with, eat with, shower with, plan with, copy with, dance with, ride the bus with, fall asleep in disgustingly hot classrooms with, and assess kids with your co-workers. It is difficult to say the least. So I admire the men and women who support their loved ones in Teach For America. It isn't for everyone. Call it a lifestyle choice, call it a cult, I call it a mission. Thank you for supporting us as we teach children. Thank you for reminding us we aren't being selfish - we are being selfless. Thank you for grounding us in our successes and supporting us through our failures. [caption id="attachment_60" align="aligncenter" width="516" caption="Found on the wall outside the Copy Room"][/caption] Thank you for helping to keep us sane enough to sing in the shower.


Assuaging Charter Guilt

Since accepting this job at a charter, I frequently fall into deep guilt over not working at a school that needs me more. Being at a successful charter school feels like the world's biggest cop-out... like they could replace me with a rock and the kids would still be fine. So I've started reminding myself of two things: First, I was good for the kids at my old school, but I wasn't that good for them. They needed me to be better and I definitely am not yet good enough to be great for those kids. I didn't have enough opportunities to grow as fast as I wanted to, and more often than not I was told that I was doing fine and left alone. This school is going to force me to change what I expect of kids and how I go about getting them, and I think I'm going to get much better much faster than I would anywhere else. Hopefully that means that when I go back, I can be the teacher my kids need. (Can I get good enough that I can run a classroom like this even if the rest of a school isn't?) I am already learning SO MUCH. Second, charter placements may be easier than public school placements, but I still know we have a project ahead of us and there are plenty of kids here who really do need me. My school used to be a public middle school, and then was taken over by a Very Famous National Charter Network (yep, that one). They tried it, didn't find the success they wanted in this community, and actually pulled out of the school. (Did you know charters could do that? Cheaters.) It then went back to a public middle school until the parents got frustrated and actually petitioned my (small, local) charter network to take over their school. So here we are. That makes me feel a little better, since at least I know that success still has to be earned and might not come as easy as it looks. It might be a weird consolation, but still... it's really exciting for me to try to do something for these kids that someone else couldn't.


Days Like These

It’s days like these that you sometimes question yourself. It’s days like these that you wonder if you are failing your kids. It’s days like these that you wonder if you are cut out for this. It’s days like these you wonder why you stay up until 2 am lesson planning. It’s days like these you wonder why you stay p until 2 am lesson planning when the kids will not be quiet long enough for you to teach the lesson. It’s days like these you wonder why you spend 80 dollars on incentives for the kids when their behavior is so bad you don’t even get to use them. It’s days like these you wonder why you spend every waking moment, in the classroom or out thinking of better, new, more exciting way to teach the same dry material. It’s days like these you wonder why you spend your only free hours of the weekend running from store to store to find enough white boards for all your kids. It’s days like these you wonder why. But then you remember... You remember the faces of your 19 students who have endless possibilities. You remember when you felt on top of the world in that classroom. You remember that know you make a difference just by being there and showing that you care. You remember when you spend 35 minutes in the hallway explaining regrouping to your student and you see her face light up when she finally gets it. You remember how you stayed up until 2 in the morning writing lesson plans and the kids hung on to every word you said, if only for a short while. You remember how excited the kids were when they reached into that prize box and found out you got their favorite candy. You remember how you compared reading elements to their own lives and they connected the story to themselves. You remember a student asking you if they could please bring the book home because they wanted to see what happened to the character. You remember how excited your kids were when they were “detectives” in your reading class. You remember when you couldn’t find white board so had to settle for page protectors and the kids were just as excited to use them. You remember you have incredible co-teachers who always have your back. You remember you are part of a vision. You remember that your actions affect the lives of all 19 of your students. You remember you made a promise that you wouldn’t walk out when the going got tough. You remember that you are here to help these students not have days like those. You remember why you are here, and you walk into the classroom the next morning with a fire reignited.


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