Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 29 2012

Classroom power.

It has happened. Bless this town, this school, these CMs, because it has happened.

No, there wasn’t a light switch. No, students aren’t suddenly mastering the rigorous content we’re planning and throwing at them. No, students aren’t applying to college as I type.

But today, walking around our school, it was practically palpable. I ran into my school director who intentionally stopped to say, “This high school hallway has it! I have never seen AIH (Academic Intervention Hour) look like this. Today we are on this!” And it’s undeniably true.

Twenty minutes earlier one of my English 2 teachers (10th grade) came literally bouncing into our CMA room to say, “This is the best day ever! I had them all period! They are engaged and learning! And [other teacher who had significant management problems last week] is doing so well.”

This sounds phenomenally trite, even to myself as I write it. But it’s not fair to ignore it because this website makes everyone sound jaded. Today was a day where all of the corps members in my CMA group were bursting into flames. Students were smiling, teachers were candidly and authentically adding background knowledge and personal flavor that connected with students. As I observed a writing lesson about backing claims with evidence, the same bouncer CM held up an exit ticket for me to read that got 100%:

In “One of These Days” the mayor abuses his power worse. He embezzles money from the town because the dentist asks, “Send the money to you or the town,” and the mayor answers, “It’s the same damn thing”. Clearly from his response the reader can infer that the mayor uses the town’s money too, which implies that he abuses his power. The dentist abuses his power too but in a good way. He tells the mayor, “It has to be without anestesia,” insuring that he can inflict pan upon the mayor for his wrongs against the town. The mayor has also been accused of killing 20 men said by the dentist. This also implies that he abuses his power by sending people to war

Y’all, a week ago these CMs were literally getting two sentences for an exit ticket out of the same student. I think it’s completely inaccurate how some people (haaay, Gary) think emphasizing (not exclusively, I mean, but just emphasizing) investment in Institute isn’t practical for CMs until later in their careers. I think CMs need to invest students and invest themselves before they will start to recognize the reality of where their students really are now, or at least in tandem to understanding the massive amounts of data they’re collecting on a daily basis. If students are not invested, data is grossly inaccurate. This is what happened with the above student. One reason why his exit tickets from last week were so grossly below his ability is because he was entirely disinterested in the class. When investment became a priority (coupled with stronger planning, data analysis, management, and overall confidence of the teacher), the student showed the reality of his abilities and can now be pushed harder for the second half of Institute.

I have honest-to-God loved this job from the beginning, but today is what pours down passion. Seeing light bulb moments for my students is one thing I never thought of being paralleled, but seeing light bulb moments for teachers, that lead to exponential light bulb moments for kids is downright overwhelming. It’s oozing TFA koolaid (KEEP THEM CRAY COMMENTS COMIN’!), it’s dripping with investment, and it’s something I believe with my gut is valuable for student achievement.


10 Responses

  1. Jasmine B.

    I just want to thank TFA…my TFA teachers have helped me GREATLy!! I have been recieving F’s in Math since 7th grade, and I began to become discouraged, I always wanted to become a doctor,but now im positive that I

    • Miss Jasmine,

      This looks like the first half of one of my favorite comments ever! I’m so glad that you have such wonderful things to say! Thanks for commenting. :)


  2. kendall

    bam. heart you, and heart this.

  3. I feel like this was written for me. I know better, but it’s still a nice feeling I’ll indulge. I’m remembering that this kind of energy is why I titled my blog what I did.
    BAM. Happy for all of you.

  4. Jasmine B.

    Can become a doctor someday! (sorry,it posted before I was done….then I got lazy!) The program is just awesome,they choose the teachers wiselyy!! :) I cant wait to start school in the fall because,now Im sure my gpa will be above 3.0 & thats new for me! And my TFA teachers call me “miss jasmine” lol…what state are u TFA’ing in?

    • Miss J–

      Aww! I am not kidding when I say your comments are my favorite I’ve ever had on this blog– I’ve never had a student respond on here! Thank you!

      I teach in Arkansas, but currently I’m helping coach new TFA teachers in Mississippi. I’m from Michigan, but I’ve fallen in love with the south.

      I’m so proud of you for turning around your attitude in school and believing in yourself. Have you had a lot of TFA teachers? What state are you in? And what year in high school?

      I’m so interested in what you have to say — maybe YOU should start a blog! ;)


  5. Jasmine B.

    Im going to 11th grade…im In.illinois & I.currently have 4 TFA teachers…I love south too, I was born there & maybe I will…But idk how :p

  6. Jasmine B.

    Oh and my 7th grade teacher was at TFA…then she moved to Chicago to teach at a school I attended,now she teaches first grade, I think…idk…But, I still touch with her, we text often..Thats how much the programs teachers have impacted my life! Yes, I.m very excited for summer school tommorow,lol but, when I learned I had it, I almost cried.I cant wait to learn again tommorow! I have always hated math,suprisingly it is now my 2nd fav subject! In the beginning I would NEVER EVER try to solve mathematical word problems now I can solve them and create equations in record time(from my perspective). I love hearing my MATH teachers say how much.of an amazing job Im doing, Its awkward,because it’s new but, I love it! I no longer feel as “dumb” as I used to. I always score highest in the district with tests all except math, I am so excited to take the tests this year! :)

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