Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 26 2011

My kids learned something! And I got a job!

Those two things in the title are not really related, but they’re both true! And I’m super excited about both of them (maybe more excited about the job because I’m still not positive their learning was all my fault, but still).

Job talk first: Yesterday a group of 5 of us took an epic road trip back to Gallup from Phoenix. It’s about 5 hours each way, so we left here at 5:30am and didn’t get back until 11:30pm, which was exhausting. But we did get to interview with a school in Gallup, which was great. We were interviewed by the principal and 3 teachers, and all of them were so nice, so friendly, so welcoming. They had a set list of questions, some of which were easy and some were hard and some were random (how do I feel about gossip? I don’t really know) and some were oddly specific. Say it’s a Thursday, and it’s two weeks into the school year, and it’s after lunch, and your kids do this. What do you do? But we talked and laughed and I got a really good vibe from the whole place. The thing I appreciated most was that one of the teachers said he was going to be honest and warn me that there are bad teachers there, and some people who just don’t care. But they try to spread out the really strong teachers to have a strong mentor teacher for every grade level, and the staff in general is friendly and supportive of each other. I really appreciated the honesty, and that they recognize that there are some issues beyond control but they’re trying to take steps to do what they can. The principal seems really together and professional (which as we saw from my last job interview, is NOT always the case) and she was actually called in to start last year to turn around the school because it had been performing so poorly. It’s still not doing great, but there are modest gains from last year.

Overall, I’m REALLY excited to work there. I got such a good feeling from them. Plus, they hired at least 4 TFA teachers, so there are a bunch of us there, and after 10 hours in a car with them, I can safely say they’re pretty awesome people. Did I mention I was SO EXCITED????? ‘Cause I might be.

I know I failed to update you on the progress of my munchkins since the second day. Well, I’m not sure how much they’re learning, but I’m sure learning a ton! Looking at where I started Monday to where I was Thursday afternoon, it’s amazing how much more in control and confident I feel. And the best part is, we have some evidence that they’re learning too! Some of what they’re learning is amorphous, like the concept that a worksheet is how you express what you know, or the idea that an answer to a question has to, in fact, answer the question. But some is pretty tangible, like the 5 senses and what body parts correspond to them. The impressive thing is that they are combining the amorphous stuff and the tangible stuff to actually do assessments correctly!

Even more than that, my kids are genuinely excited to be in school and learning. They try to help each other and they are so excited to show off what they know. When we put a marble in our jar (we’re working toward a full jar and the popsicles that go with it) they all whisper, “Yessss!” and grin. When they see me in the hallway (we only teach half-days, so I’m not always with them) they give me random hugs and tell me what they’re learning in math. When they get a star to take home to show how hard they worked, they wave it in the air and excitedly tell everyone they pass that they’re a Super Scholar. It’s a piece of construction paper with my handwriting on it, but it’s also evidence that they’re learning, and they’re working hard, and they’re invested in school. I’m pretty proud of them for that.

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

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