Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 14 2010

Got to admit it’s getting better…

I could be working, but instead will post the entry I wrote in my notebook while my kids were taking their Arkansas field test yesterday. It’s a testimony of love for 117 babies.

Oh, and before that, I’m talleying up votes right now, because my kids get to use their class points on Friday (we finished a unit! we get our reward!) Class points have been an amazing, amazing reward system that impacts immediate behavior. (To the point that one day when a vet teacher walked in to a perfectly behaved class and sincerely asked, “How do you get them to behave?!” a student silently pointed to the board were class points are recorded. When said vet teacher still looked confused, student simply said, “class points.” PERFECTION.) Anyway, I’m talleying and I gave them the option of saving their points for a bigger incentive if they collect them for the whole semster, and one student wrote “I think we should save. You think we’re going to quit! No! We’re going to the top! We are the first class ever!” Not sure what the last sentence means, but I love it.

Anyway, that blog post from my notebook (notice that contrast…) is as follows:

I can’t even handle how much I love my students. When they are all bent over exams (or almost all- Toby’s tapping, rather violently, his pointer finger into his cheek), heads low and pencils scurrying- there is a breathless potential that leaves me in awe.

The idea of 22 little human brains, sitting before me for an hour a day, five days a week, 32 weeks of one year, is amost nauseating in its magnitude. So many hours spent with these people. Hardly children anymore because they’re ages 11 to 14, these PEOPLE, and in all that time there is so much room for greatness. Not just room for it but an expectation for greatness.

It shocks me that I can go home at night and sit at a table and think of other things. That I can worry about failed college romance and if I’m good enough to be calling myself a Christian and why my room isn’t clean. How can I consider such things when there is so much responsibilty locked into room 78? When there are so many situations and opportunities and ideas to manage in my classroom. How can I worry about me when I have a tiny heart bursting with worry for THEM?

I am a teacher. A noble profession, a humble profession, a profession that should be held accountable for all social problems in the country because we have these kids the longest. We watch microcosms (?) of the “real world” in our classrooms EVERY DAY, and we decide and teach how to deal with dissent, how to recognize value, how to analyze and crush problems.

These students, with calm hands and restless bodies, as they accidentally fling their Arkansas field exams to the floor and then pull their skinny arms into flashy orange hoodies, these students are going to be powerful people. They will get to junior high next year. They will graduate high school in 2017, and college in 2021. These students are 117 pieces of a little Arkansas society, but they will be more than that! They are more than that! They deserve to have a chance to be much, much more than that.

2 Responses

  1. Shoshana

    you’re amazing!

    aren’t ‘point’ rewards the best! i’ve gotten my kids to do great things with the promise of points :)

  2. great blog post. a reward system is an excellent way to motivate students!

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