Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 16 2011

Momentum.

Just finished my first full size candy cane of the season, about to sleep sitting at this computer. I haven’t been tired in a long time– all that traveling in the past six weeks wore me out, but nothing like this. Two full weeks of teaching and I’m a little fry-ball. See? That’s not even a real thing.

I can’t decide if my management is getting better or worse. Today I differentiated and wanted to explode when it genuinely worked. With the newly replaced and now-functional Smartboard (it was only out for, you know, two months, so I had re-designed my room around the white board), I have adjusted my seats into six groups in front of it, with two long tables angled off to the side. Thankfully, I’m blessed with an enormous room and off-center Smartboard– it leaves much space for creativity. This means I could physically remove my behind students and put them at a different table, away from group instruction.

Also, for once, I think those students felt the impact of not doing their work on time. All the other students were reading their essays out loud, peer editing (really, just testing reading their work out loud– I didn’t put much emphasis on the actual editing just yet), but about four students in each class were behind, and sat excluded while they worked on their drafts. Not only this, but almost every single student new what s/he was supposed to be doing, and was doing it. Holy hell, please understand how amazing that is. Every time I walked by and a student was off topic, it was because that pair was genuinely finished with the work.

My highest students I hired out as mentors at the side tables– they’re strong enough where they wouldn’t have benefited or missed much during editing, so I put them in charge of helping other students.

I am by no means an excellent writing teacher, not even a little bit, but hearing the sentences my students were writing today was incredible. We’re using Sentence Composing for Elementary Students (soon moving to middle), and I am dying with excitement about using mentor texts. When they imitate “real authors”, my students’ are phenomenal. They love word of the day, love creating long and “smart” sentences, and love having a chance to work in partners every single day.

I’m finding new routines and systems and resources. I’m also finding more and more teachers coming up to me to vent, explain, or ask about things. I forget, sometimes, that the huge-ness of my campus means that it’s not just me that feels isolated and like I don’t know anyone– even vet teachers feel that. Some of them are probably just as nervous to approach me as I am them. I want to break that before the end of the year. I want to push the other teachers just as much as I want to push my kids. I think at this point we’re all tired of just complaining about morale, complaining about failing systems, complaining about things that are making us miserable… and we’re ready to change things.

Achievement First sent me their 6th grade Language documents (after I asked), and I’m beside myself with excitement to dig through them over break. Finally, some exemplar writing planning texts (these do not exist in the Delta yet). I’m also teaching a spring course for ProSat– a writing-only planning course that I’m praying won’t collapse in on itself.

Okay, exhaustion needs to morph to productivity so I can make it to el Toro in time to meet up with the gang.

One Response

  1. Ms. Math

    awesome! glad class went so well! It’s amazing how much kids will do if they are appropriately challenged and given work that matches their needs.

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