Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 14 2011

Tomorrow is the first day of school…

Tomorrow I get kiddos. Tomorrow 16 (maybe? Maybe more? Probably less) 8-10-year-olds will walk through my classroom door expecting me to teach them something.

Dear God, I hope I don’t screw this up.

I just tried to call them all to introduce myself and tell their parents about a Family Night we’re having on Thursday, but out of 16 of them, I only got through to 2 and left messages for 2 more. Every other number was either disconnected or just rang forever. I have heard of parent contact being a really difficult thing in our region, because kids move around a lot and families sometimes live without electricity or phone, but I hadn’t thought that 75% of my kids’ parents would be unreachable by phone. Hopefully the parent survey I’m sending home tomorrow will help with that. The parents I did reach sounded excited that I was calling, though. Calling every student made me take a closer look at the Demographics page on their online student info. So many of my students have parents with different last names than theirs (foster kids? living with extended family?), or parents who don’t live together, or parents who are unemployed, or whole father information sections that are just left blank. Most of them live between 20 minutes and an hour away on the reservation, which means they’ll be waking up super early every morning just to get to school. The sheer number of disconnected phones speaks to the poverty, or to the frequent moving.

It makes me realize a couple things. One: how incredibly lucky I was to grow up in a home with both my parents, electricity, meals, and running water. And two: how very many things are standing against my kids right now. But at the same time, I’m so excited to meet them and so determined to teach them. I’ve looked at their little faces on the online student pages (which are from 3rd grade photo day…they’re pretty darn cute) and written their names on folders and desks (which was silly, since by all accounts the list I have will NOT be the same kids I end up with). I love them already.

But loving them isn’t enough. I have to push them, inspire them, motivate them, teach them. And I am more than a little lost on how exactly I’m going to do that.

Here we go…

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

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