Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 18 2011

Week 1 of Institute: Check.

I have learned MANY things this week. Many, many things. One of those things, unfortunately, was that I’m not very good at updating this blog while Institute is going on. Sorry about that. Maybe you’re interested in what my typical Institute day looks like, and why I suck at keeping up with just about everything (including sleep).

5:40am: Wake up. Groan.

5:42am: Do physical therapy exercises on my ankle, which is still way messed up (yeah, we’re working on it). Groan some more.

6:10am: Head down to pack a lunch and eat breakfast, dressed in my snazzy teacher duds (which are not that snazzy).

6:40am: Bus leaves for my summer school. If I arrive at the bus any time after the doors close,  I will be taking a $60 cab ride to school, getting there late, and getting in trouble. I arrive early.

7:30am: Begin first session at school. Up until now, this has mean lesson planning strategies or diversity and community achievement or classroom management sessions. But starting on Monday, it will mean either classroom prep time or breakfast duty with MY STUDENTS!!!! Who have just finished kindergarten and are adorable.

8-11am: Academic Intervention Hour (where we go over stuff they’re struggling with, i.e. many things because right now they’re all behind. Except this week we’re using this for Classroom Procedure time, where we practice how to get in pairs or line up or transition from desks to carpet. This is harder than you think) and Literacy Block.

11-11:30am: Lunch for kids, lunch for me (separately or together to build relationships).

11:30-1:30pm: Math Block.

1:30pm: Kids go home. I begin more afternoon sessions on How Not To Suck At Teaching (More Than Is Absolutely Unavoidable).

4:40-5pm: School-wide end of day meeting. This is probably the best meeting ever, because it usually involves chanting, singing, and sometimes dancing. Elementary teachers are great meeting leaders.

5pm: Bus leaves to go back to ASU.

5:30-forever: Eat dinner, do lesson-planning, reflections, or other homework, or attend logistical meeting at ASU. Begin groaning.

Way too late: Bedtime. Groan. Sleep for not that long.

And we repeat. The reason I haven’t called my friends or parents or even checked my facebook (gasp!) in four days is that I literally, in the real sense of the word, have NO time when I don’t have something specific I should be doing. Which doesn’t mean I’m always doing it, but still. Saturday has never been so wonderful a day: I slept in, went to the pool, talked to my parents, met with my team and worked for 3 hours (OK, not so great but could be worse…could have been 5 hours). Free time is a beautiful, beautiful thing. If you’re not treasuring it, you should start.

Despite all this, I’m really enjoying the whole experience. Phoenix is hot as blazes, sometimes working in teams is frustrating, and long meetings can be soporific. (Also sometimes really ridiculous stuff happens like this, which is all the Institute staff in case you’re wondering.) But overall, people are dedicated and there’s a real sense that we’re working for something Important and Urgent. It is disgusting that my 6-year-olds are almost all behind grade-level in both reading and math after only 1 year in school, but this is our chance to catch them up to where they should be and surpass it so they can succeed in first grade. In the state of Florida, they use first grade test scores, particularly reading scores, to project future prison capacities. They correlate close enough that to do that. If this makes your skin crawl with injustice, it should.

But here is my promise to my kids: We are going to be learning this summer. Not because you’re cute, and not because you’re my practice kids for the coming school year. We are going to be learning, because you deserve to kick that statistic in the lumpy, lopsided ass. You deserve to be able to read. You deserve the kind of education that will open doors in your future, and that needs to start RIGHT NOW.

One Response

  1. Tara

    that is scary and awful (re: florida test scores)…I start Induction on Tuesday and I am getting tired/excited/anxious just reading the schedule for Institute haha…good luck!! :)

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In which I muse about New Mexico, teaching, and life in general.

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