A Mosaic In Progress

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 15 2012

“See you in New York City!”

When I last wrote about A, I mentioned that she was the target of some verbal abuse a couple weeks ago by her classmates. Things escalated the following Monday when I passed her by in the hallway being escorted by a fellow teacher. They headed to the Principal’s Office (not a good sign). Because she was my student, I stopped outside the doorway to listen in on what would become a fierce argument. “Oh no, I just lost a student,” I kept thinking. I wouldn’t expect someone to stick around after firing with, “I get picked on my whole life and all you do is sit in your room behind your desk doing nothing. I’m tired of it!” Apparently, the same thing happened again during group work.

As she stormed out, I caught up with her and asked for her to sit down at a nearby desk. I begin to share a little bit of my last post: my story, what college was like, and what happens after. Then I start to hear about what she wanted to do. College was her ticket out of MS. She wanted to travel. A told me that she wanted to see New York City. I had some friends there so I talked about them. She even asked, “What’s a consultant? What do they do?” I’ve only been there a handful of times but I tried recalling every memory. I told her not to mind people when they bump into you and keep on moving … they’re usually too busy to look back. She got a smile from that finally =).

Institute ended on Friday and even though I spent five short weeks there I know I am going to miss it. Summer school was a blip in the lives of my students. I am honestly not sure if that was enough time to change their entire lives. At least I know that A knows when to add and when to multiply exponents when simplifying polynomials.

As for me, I learned a few things:

  • When a student is dry-heaving in class, you can make an exception on the bathroom rules because he/she probably has to throw up. Make sure the teacher who escorts him/her also doesn’t throw up when this student throws up.
  • If you think you’re talking too much during an explanation of a concept, you probably are.
  • Watch out for saying euphemisms in class. And when you unknowingly use one in an example, just laugh at yourself when you see the video later. It’s funny to everyone else so you might as well enjoy it.
  • Let yourself be known. You can’t be trusted otherwise.
  • Never lower your expectations of your students. Your students don’t deserve that. If they find out that you did, they’ll hate you for it.

Needless to say, I learned a lot. I will keep these lessons in mind for the next two years and beyond in my placement. The job has already begun as I head to a week of training with my school. There’s a new set of co-teachers who I get to work with – both TFA and non-TFA – except I am now alone to teach roughly 70-90 7th and 8th graders.

A on the last day of summer school requested to re-take her final test. She knew she could do better on it than the day before. This time she only missed a few questions. Impressive considering she had a hard time with adding/subtracting negative integers before! We had a chance to see our final goodbye’s. After a hug, I made sure to say, “See you in New York City!” I hope I get to see her there. I hope I get to know my future students enough to say more than just goodbye =).

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    Midwesterner being thankful for every written experience … even when it hurts =)

    Mississippi Delta
    High School

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