Rockin’ the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 20 2009

“No Puedo”

Wooooooo Hoooooooo!!!! Week two of Institute is done, including my first week as a summer school teacher! I feel like we JUST got here, and Wednesday at noon already marks the half way point. It’s been an outstanding week – tiring, but outstanding. Here’s some quick highlights:

Monday was my first day in the classroom. Three of us each teach 50 minutes of a 2 and a half hour world geography course. I’m third, and while the second was teaching the first came up to me in our CMA room (basically a teacher’s lounge). He showed me a Post It and asked if I knew what the phrase written on the note – “No Puedo” – meant. When I told him it meant “I can’t,” he looked completely disheartened. “That’s what M told me when I asked her to read the board.”

We also gave diagnostic assessments on Monday. The scores ranged from 5% to 45%, but these scores aren’t entirely valid. Many students (including the student who received the high score) just stopped taking the exam in the middle. I can’t possibly blame them – They know they’re getting graded on it, and Texas tests the crap out of them. In fact, they’ve actually taken a very similar exam the first time they took world geography. In addition to teaching them all the content they’ll need to know in order to pass the exam, receive credit recovery, and succeed to college, I’ll also need to teach them test taking strategies to given them the longevity needed to finish such a riiculous test.

My Monday lesson on the two main Eastern religion went awesome. Tuesday? Not so much. I had absolutely no classroom management, and even less time management. They’re assessments proved that I taught them absolutely nothing, and that was a horrible feeling. I felt really bad coming back from school on Tuesday, and then I had to attend two evening sessions. I was completely exhausted and in no mood to sit through two additional sessions. The first session proved absolutely useless (a sediment that seems to be shared by CMs Institute-wide), but my second session was actually AWESOME! It really inspired me to completely change the way I ran my classroom.

So on Wednesday, I kicked some butt. The smiling stopped in class, and I demanded the full attention of the class. It was perfect timing, too. I had planned an interactive activity for Wednesday so that the students can engage in more practice on the material, and it would have fallen apart if my class wasn’t under control.

Thursday was also awesome. I planned another activity that was even more crazy than Wednesday’s activity. I knew it would either be really really awesome, or it would really really flop. On Wednesday I asked everybody that would listen whether or not I should try it or plan a new lesson, and I’m really glad I decided to try it. I really feel as though they understood the concept of globalization much more than if I would have just lectured at them for 50 minutes.

Thursday night, TFA hosted a really awesome cheesey junior high mini-dance called “10 @ 10.” Good times.

The students don’t have school on Fridays, but we still had sessions and stuff. It was actually a great day, and then we headed to a couple schools after work. One was a completely chill Texas bar called the ArmadilloPalace and the other was an awesome piano bar. Once again, I would like to stress how awesome my Corps is. Never before have I worked with people who were ALL so intelligent, driven, and hard working, yet also really, really fun. Amazing.

Today has had a great (but relaxing) start, too. I just had my very first parent phone call as a teacher. Don’t worry – it was a good call. One of my students, A, is absolutely amazing. He is way to smart to be in my class, he always volunteers when I need him, and he is a huge ally in keeping his peers in line. When I called his mom, however, she seemed completely surprised. She was nervous when I told her I was one of A’s teachers, but then sounded sooooooo happy when I told her the good news. I wondered if no other teacher ever called her? All she said was, “Well I guess taking him to church is starting to pay off!”

Time to get back to work… I need to get a few lesson plans finalized before my Faculty Advisor picks me up – He’s taking our group out for dinner and to a local “watering hole,” and I can’t wait!

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    a Teach For America teacher’s blog

    Region
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    Subject
    Social Studies

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