It simultaneously feels that I have been inching and sprinting through the summer, and especially the TFA process. Since my last update, I’ve taken the class NYC professional trip, traveled to and from Taiwan, spent a bit of time in Chicago, had a total physical (blood work! menengitis shot!), and went to the dentist. I took my PRAXIS I exam, got a “certificate of excellence” for high scores in PRAXIS II (and giggled about thinking I did poorly), and mailed my transcripts off to the Arkansas office.
All that’s left is half my required reading (plan to do beach-side this weekend on Beaver Island), and my second classroom observation that, frankly, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do. My connection to Kalamazoo schools fell through, and it is now maybe two weeks until the end of the year. I feel terrible barging in this late, trying to make connections this late, and being disappointed if it ends up being a field day or testing week. Because I observed three classrooms while I worked as an OC at the Philly Institute last summer (TFA training), I don’t think it will be a huge issue if I don’t manage it.
Speaking of the observation– WOW! I had the chance to observe one of my best friend’s English classes that she teaches in Taiwan. Though it was dramatically different than anything I’ll encounter, it was definitely relevant. The class was 2 and 3 year olds that hardly have any sort of handle on Chinese, and they know the English alphabet, some are reading Chinese books, and all are incredibly well behaved and disciplined. Though it was a very unique room, things like classroom management, tone of voice, working with other teachers, using in-class rewards and long term behavior incentives were all very relevant.
My travel schedule means I have not slept in the same place (or even same city) for more than two nights in a row in the past three weeks. I slept in friends apartments, hotels, hostels, planes, homes in Kalamazoo and Novi. My toothbrush doesn’t leave my bag for more than the 10 minutes it takes to clean my teeth, because bathrooms keep changing. This is definitely, definitely, a time of major transition.
When I first found teachfor.us I was elated that there is even a special blogging site just for TFA teachers. Now that I’m using it, I see how much is to be desired. As a design major that interned at a web design company, I crave perfect usability, perks that make me literally say “oh! that is so smart!”, simple features like syncing with other sites and obvious log in, log out, connections and comments. I love the premise of teachfor.us, but I can’t stand the way it functions from my end as the user. (As a reader I don’t think it’s too bad.)
SIDE NOTE 2:
On my trip I read Teacher Man by Frank McCourt. It was a graduation gift from my cousin Rose, and I read it cover to cover while flying. He taught in inner-city NYC and this was a teaching memoir. It was so valuable! Favorite quote:
How it must feel…to wake up in the morning, to leap gladly from the bed, knowing that before you stretched a day in which you’d do God’s work with the youth of America, content with your meager renumeration, your real reward the glow of graditute in the eager eyes of your students
It was a slightly sarcastic comment, but the kind that still has truth and optimism. The book was very realistic and very uplifting and made me feel more confident to make mistakes, fail, succeed, and try try try.