we are penn state

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 04 2008

Rainy days and Mondays…

Today is both a rainy day and a Monday, as well as report card night. Yuck.

This weekend was another great one. I went up to State College to see Nick. We just hung out on Friday, then went out on Saturday, it was really fun. I was going to take the train home on Sunday, but Nick nicely offered to let me have his car for the week. I was really scared to drive that far alone, but it was absolutely fine. Sooo, that means I was able to drive to work today, which made my morning much less stressful than usual. This weekend, I’m going to drive home (like to Danville) on Friday, hang out with Megan and Lindsey on Saturday, go to my sister’s senior night on Saturday night, drive up to State College early on Sunday morning, hang out with Nick for awhile and go out to lunch, then take the Amtrak back to Philly. Then, the following weekend is a long one, so Nick is going to come down for that. I’ve got a pretty nice two weeks coming up.

After talking to Nick today, it has been revealed that his ulterior motive was to make me realize how much more convenient my life will be when I buy a car, and to make me realize that I need to buy one soon. :-P It worked! I’ve been looking at car insurance quotes today and we’re going to go look for cars in 2 weeks.

This week itself is a pretty busy one. Like I said, report card conferences tonight, Penn class tomorrow, my mom and sister are coming down on Wednesday, Thursday I pack and Friday I leave. I’m feeling kind of anxious for a few reason: I’m not going to see Nick much this weekend, I’m low on money (payday is Friday) and I feel unprepared for this week. Yuck. Hopefully, as this week gets moving, I’ll feel a little better.

I feel like I’ve kind of come to terms with the reality of my situation at this school. The kids are not going to bring paper or pencils to class, and contrary to TFA speak, no amount of my motivation or consequences is going to make them do that. 6th period hell is 6th period hell, and my goal is now to get through it, not to revolutionize it. I still don’t like most aspects of my job, but I’ve realized that complaining about the things I can’t change is not going to make them better. Sometimes it helps to remember what my mom used to tell me whenever I was really upset…I don’t remember exactly what the words were, but it had to do with taking it one day at a time, and if you can’t take it one day at a time, take it one hour at a time…and if you can’t take it one hour at a time, take it one minute at a time (because anyone can get through anything for one minute).

This school is so depressing. Most of my classes now have less than 10 kids in them. This is great for them, but the classes are supposed to have around 25 kids. Also, the kids that are coming tend to rotate- this makes it almost impossible to keep everyone caught up, making units that should take 2 weeks take 4. I’ve begun to just skip over certain objectives that I’ve deemed as less important, as we are over a month behind the school district curriculum. I feel bad at times picking and choosing what the kids should learn, but at the same time, I would feel worse having them miss entire units at the end of the year.

The kids were pretty good today. My ESOL kids took a quiz, which is always a nice break. Although the class is health care (which, once again, I was never given a curriculum for, and have no idea how to teach) we’re focusing heavily on writing right now. Twice a week, we have some type of “fun write” to help improve their English skills. The enjoy it, I enjoy reading them, so I really don’t care that 40 minutes a week we’re doing something that isn’t related to health care (the kids already told me this is the most helpful thing for their future that we’ve done all year). For example, we learned about typhoid fever last week. Their quiz was, “Your friend is traveling to an African area in which typhoid fever is prevalent. Help your friend stay safe on their trip by telling them everything they need to know about typhoid. Be sure to tell them precautions to take to avoid the disease, symptoms of the disease, and how it is cured.” The kids enjoyed writing this, and many of them actually wrote as if they were writing a letter to a friend. It’s great to see their writing skills improving.

Right now it’s report card night. That means parents can come with their kids to pick up report cards. Then, they can walk around and talk to teachers about their kids’ grades. This started at 6:00. It’s 6:21. I haven’t had one parent. :-(

One Response

  1. You're #1 Fan

    Until recently, I could only read what you do every day and try to imagine what it must be like to teach at your school. Yesterday though, I got to see it first hand. I can only say, How amazing are you!

    I can see why you often feel frustrated when you have to teach kids who don’t really want to be there. But I saw how you taught them anyway. And I saw how kind you were to even the least enthusiastic of students.

    I can see how intereacting with kids who don’t respect anyone, not even themselves, can be an overwhelming task. But, I saw how they showed respect to you and through that I was able to catch glimpses of the impact that you are having on their lives.

    I can see why you loose your voice in class as easily as if you had just cheered for the homecoming football game. I saw how you kept teaching anyway. Speaking above the voices of those students who don’t really care to be there and reaching those that do.

    I can see why the kids come to you when they are worried or upset about something. I saw how you gently talked with a young girl who had her head down on the desk. I saw your hand lightly stroke her back letting her know you understood whatever it was that she said to you.

    I can see how the personalities of certain students can be a little taxing on your nerves. I saw how you are able to distinquish between behaviors that need correcting and behaviors that need to be ignored. I saw how you responded to those students with the same tone and respect as you did the kids who are a little easier to be around.

    I saw how you ate a pouch of tuna, standing over a garbage can in your class room, so students who don’t have any place to be during lunch can have a safe place to go.

    In my mind, I can still see you as a little girl. You would ask question after question making me wonder if they would ever end.
    Yesterday, I saw right before my eyes, that little girl become a teacher.
    How amazing is that!

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