Middle School Hero

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 28 2012

Season Finale

If my TFA experience was actually a sitcom (and really, it feels like one sometimes) then last week’s RMS Choir Concert was the season finale. After another long day of teaching, topped off with an all-staff meeting, I stuck around with another handful of coworkers to prepare for the concert, which we’d combined with an initiative by our librarian to turn the proceedings into a pseudo-literacy night as well. The PTA bought a bunch of pizza for the parents who would come and so we had all the trappings of a real, live parent night.

While the concert itself was a good time, it wasn’t much to write about. In general, it was what you’d expect from this school. The people were great but the equipment was sub-par as we spent half the night without a microphone. We don’t have an auditorium so the students performed in the cafeteria, though no one seemed to notice or mind. One of the neat things about this community is that I’ve heard very little complaining from parents. They’re consistently thankful for what they’ve got instead of asking for more. On one hand, you’d love to see more advocacy, but on the other it’s something I don’t ever have to deal with.

 

But what really stood out to me was not the concert itself but rather the dead spaces before and after the concert. In that time, I walked around the school, helping deliver pizzas, setting up tables, and helping set up and take down the event. This gave me the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the school building alone.

As I walked those empty halls, usually teeming with energy and noise, it began to dawn on me how close I was to finishing my first semester.

Not just any semester, but my toughest one (I presume).
To recap, I started at RMS barely a week after Institute ended, a week after getting my placement moved from high school to middle school. After that brutal turnaround, I endured a semester wherein I spent most of my time frantically searching for some semblance of teaching acumen.

It all seemed to move so fast but suddenly I found myself walking down F Hall, looking for a spare table when it hit me: my first semester is almost done. Which means I’m halfway finished with my first year of teaching. Halfway finished with my time with these kids. Halfway finished with these titanic goals that my kids and I have set.

And a fourth of the way done with the whole experience, which is equally surreal. I’ve been thinking about TFA since I was a sophomore in college. And now it’s flying by. I’ve met some amazing people over the last six months, and now you’re telling me that I’ve got roughly 18 months left with them?

As all these different thoughts swept through my head, I could practically hear the music, the soundtrack of my TV show welling up. Somewhere else in the school, someone was confessing their love for someone else while down another hallway, a cliffhanger ending would be developing in the plot of the show. Everything everywhere was coming to a natural, conclusive end and there I was, finally able to stop and reflect at the end of a torrid semester.

Finally, after a six month long sprint, I was able to jog for just a second.

Then the program happened and suddenly it was time to cheer on my kids, then go home to grade and lesson plan and strive and struggle.

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Chronicling teaching middle school English in OKC


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