Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 13 2010

Ms. Lampinen

First, it is 100 degrees outside and I am freezing. It is hot enough that if I am outside for (no joke) longer than 4 minutes I have sweat pooled in the small of my back. I am not a big sweater, but people aren’t kidding when they talk about Delta humidity.

I’m freezing because I’m sitting in McDonald’s, as usual. Today I had my sixth and seventh phone calls with CenturyLink, the internet provider. All of the calls I’ve made have been at least 20 minutes long, which made it very frustrating when I had to make calls today. I’ve realized that a lot of vital things I’ve had to do I’ve been totally inefficient with, and it’s getting on my nerves. I had to get my TB test twice because of my own poor planning. Had to re-set up internet three times, with extraneous phone calls between each of those. I have to drive to the social security office to get a new card (an hour away) even though I already applied for one a month ago in Mississippi. These are not big things, it’s just really frustrating to do them twice, or three times.

My classroom is still a hot mess, but every day I get a little more excited about it. After four days of begging, I got two bookshelves on the same day. I accidentally have a black theme (bulletin board, table, filing cabinet…) and I seem to be the only teacher that refuses to put up inspirational posters from the Dollar General. Don’t get me wrong, I love inspirational quotes, but I seriously can’t handle the design of most pre-made teacher supplies. Maybe I will eventually give in to bubble letters and frightening animals dressed as teachers and race cars with “revved up” writing vocabulary slapped on them… but for right now they’re staying in the closet. The highly organized closet, thanks.

The only things I do have posted up so far are a US map Cindy sent me (hooray!) and three long skinny posters above the door: “Reed class of 2011″ “Dumas class of 2017″ and “COLLEGE class of 2021″. College is caps and everything. I brought back my graduation cap from WMU and tacked it up there, too. Of all TFA things to be smooshed in my brain, I didn’t expect to jump on that “you’re graduating in a decade but I’m still going to drill it into you that you’re going to college and will graduate in four years like society wants you to!!” but I just can’t help it! My students graduate from elementary school this year, which (to me) is a huge deal. It’s their last year as a kid, their last year to prepare for classes that will honestly start determining their life path. The opportunity to constantly talk about graduation, and how they can and will graduate two more times (at least!) is too sweet to ignore.

Even though my planning is way, way less than spectacular so far, I am too excited to have a class of hormonal sixth graders testing me. I know I will fail so many times, and I know in a few months I will eat my words about being excited, but I just want to start seeing them every day. I want to memorize names and personalities, want to assign jobs and let them take control over my Smart Board. I want to start brainstorming more resources, more activities, more possibilities for my students. I want to learn what an adverb is, and teach it to them in a way they’ll remember. I want to be comfortable enough with them to act like myself and enough of an authority for them to be scared when they act a fool. (Not gonna lie, Delta slang is rubbing off on me and I love it!)

Oh, teaching. How insane it is to know that in six days all these things will happen. Exhaustion, English, 6th graders, Reed Elementary.

4 Responses

  1. Cindy

    Glad to know something form all those goodies made it up on the walls of your first class room first! Keep riding the excitment, and keep posting!

  2. I saw the thing on not using those motivational poster – keep at that… I HATE THOSE THINGS. They’re so tacky…

    I did fine without using them – you should be able to find lots of stuff if you think outside the box. I had a lot of maps since I taught geography… a map of the NYC subway, some country profiles, etc… look online for free posters you can print out and laminate. If you want something more inspirational, I found decent posters of Einstein and MLK Jr. from a poster store at the mall… just make sure you read the whole thing :)

    As a student, I always wondered why the heck Garfield cared if I graduated or procrastinated.

  3. Jennifer

    If you ever get your internet set up, visit It’s a site that lets you create your own motivational posters (and just about any other kind you could want). I hate those inspirational posters with cheesy sayings, but I like when I can make my own and have some fun with them. Just an idea for you. Keep up the great work and stay excited!

  4. Shoshana

    way to go caro baby! i love you! Once you get to know your kids, you’ll know how to decorate in a way that fits you and them. Let them help you :) I just started my full time kindergarten schedule and loving it! You’re in my thoughts and prayers!

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