Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 22 2012

Organizational ecstacy.

I am in the middle of bliss, literally.

To my left is my over-sized purse; a gift from a student that I was given at promotion yesterday; my phone and wallet; a coffee cup, Kool-Aid cup, and water bottle; a binder of discipline, folder of promotion speeches, and templates for my Do Now and homework. To my right are my calendar, planner, district calendar, and “flexy” (thanks, AF!) In front of me? Hummus, pretzels, and baby carrots. Bliss.

Fifteen minutes ago the sixth grade teachers dispursed, after about 45 minutes of talking about culture without really talking about culture. We all know our school has been negative, we all know our team has been inconsistent, we all know we need to run a tight ship if we’re going to get the next group of sixth graders’ reputation back in order. The blissful thing? We’re planning for it.

Sixth grade is blessed because once our students promote, they don’t come back. This means four full days of planning. Last year I remember a lot of jamming to music, shoving pencils and Sharpies into random pencil boxes, and last minute paper work. This year I am collaboratively re-writing our block and lunch schedule for next year with our principal, organizing a campus calendar on outlook, planning a school-wide PD on how to efficiently use googledocs, collaboratively writing a teacher handbook, and meeting with my team teachers to decide concrete procedures, expectations, and culture for next year.

Just sitting us all in the same room with a common mission makes my heart skip a beat. Negativity is at an all-time low as I started the group a bit sheepishly with four boxes with questions:

  • What did we do well this year?
  • What is our biggest area to grow?
  • What strength do you bring to the team?
  • What do you need the most help with in the 6th grade team?

What’s calming is that after some teasing about me giving the group “homework”, we had mostly the same answers. We need consistency. We have a nice mix of new energy and experience in the district. We get frustrated when things are thrown at us last minute.

In one hour, we decided as a team (and I do mean very participatory team– everyone had ideas and was on the same page with almost everything!) to make the following changes for our team next year:

  • Weekly Friday meetings with a consistent agenda (what we’re working on in class, major behavior problems, major academic problems, upcoming events duties, ideas and announcements)
  • One Friday a month our meeting with be a breakfast potluck (our prep period is first thing in the morning)
  • Monthly morale building activities just for the five of us. Each teacher has two months (mine are November and April… stay tuned for that) to pick a day in which we all get together and do something social. Bowling, out to dinner, fishing, Hot Springs, etc.
  • Recess procedures

And we still have seven items on the agenda that we’re all excited to talk about! Glory be, I have four minutes until the meeting gets started again.

Last thing: last night I got a surprise call from a TFA director in our northern Delta office. I honestly had no idea why he would call me, and when we finally got finished with our game of phone tag I was eager to hear what he wanted. It went something along the lines of, “I just wanted to check in and see what you’re up to for next year…” “Well, I’m planning on staying in Dumas a third year and teaching my same content area.” “Okay, well, I’m calling because it turns out we have an opening for M, TLD in the Delta. We had the chance to hire more corps members than we expected. I’m just wondering if that sounds like an interesting opportunity for you. Hannah told me you started an application, and we think if you were interesting in heading down that path you might be a good person for it.”

WHAT?! WHAT?! I was giggling almost hysterically because it was absolutely the last thing I would have expected out of the call. First, I don’t think I’m at all qualified for a position like that. Second, because my head and heart are totally sold on Dumas. Third, WHAT?!

Back to meeting of blissful productivity.

One Response

  1. Malia O.

    Congrats, girl! I’ll email you so we can chat in more detail, but this is AWESOME! It sounds like all of your hard work and dedication is really paying off. YOU DESERVE IT!

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