Middle School Hero

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 06 2012

My kids aren’t freedom writers and I’m not standing and delivering… yet.

Very quickly on, I learned that my life is not a teacher movie. My kids aren’t freedom writers and I’m not standing and delivering. My TFA experience isn’t going to feature some dramatic scene with uplifting music where I go from a struggling first year teacher to a life changer in an instant.

Recently, I’ve stopped trying to turn it all around at once. I’ve stopped vowing to grade all those papers, plan out the whole unit, call all parents, and get those new seating charts in. Instead, I’ve been focusing on one or two things each and every day that’s going to help drive student achievement. Today, it’s rearranging the room. Tomorrow, it’ll be getting an after school tutoring session set up. I’m not going to see huge mindset shifts over night, but I am (slowly) starting to see change in both myself and my students.

For my students, many of them are still way behind. But we’re light years ahead of where we were at the beginning of the year. At the beginning, most of my students could not write coherently. Now, they’re putting thoughts to paper. I’m starting to see flashes of organization and glimpses of voice where before there was none.

For myself, I’m starting to pull myself together. I’ve actually got a unit plan that I feel good about. Today, I finally sent in my stuff to print a day early, instead of showing up early at the copy machine to handle it. I stayed at school until 9 tonight getting rid of a bunch of extra crap that was cluttering up my room and now my classroom has 28 desks (instead of 32) and no junk that isn’t mine (except for a huge stack of unidentified boxes still taking residence in one of my corners, despite repeated pleas to my principal to get them moved.

We’re still so far from transformational change, but I’m starting to feel like a good teacher. Today, I got to talk to several of my students that I usually don’t get to chat with. As they left my room, I thought to myself that I had connected to them in a way that not any teacher could. For maybe the first time, my skills and expereriences helped me do the kind of thing that TFA chose me to pick. It felt good.

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Chronicling teaching middle school English in OKC

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