miss m in memphis

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 29 2011

new school.

My new school is tough.

I mean, TOUGH. This is what people talk about when they say “Teach For America” schools. The history of failure is epic here. In 2010, 6 PERCENT of  5th graders scored proficient on the TCAP. 6 PERCENT! That isn’t because they were failed in 5th grade, it’s because they were failed in kindergarten, in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th…

There are days when I would settle for mediocre, for “compliant and on task.” I have some kids who are five years old and don’t give a damn what I have to say. And I yell. A lot more than I would like to admit. Somedays, I feel like I’m in triage, just teaching who I can. Which makes me feel like a really bad teacher. I wasn’t brought here to just help who I felt like helping.

I still love teaching; I do. This experience is making me into a much, much better teacher and a much, much better person. It reminds me of what I learned in Ghana last summer. I am really good at loving people from a distance, but not so good when I have to see the brokenness and the dirtiness up close. And these kids need me to love them.

I think this most important thing about this work is to also remember what you are doing right. I have to focus on positive things or I will drown.

So, positive:

1. L told a boy to be quiet because he was giving her a headache and she was trying to learn.

2. High frequency words. Oh my gosh, they are getting into learning the high frequency words.

3. Parents who ask how they can help. I remain adamant that  low-income parents want their kids to learn, they just don’t always know how to teach them.

4. Centers. Thanks to Pintrest, I have some awesome new centers ideas.

5. T, bless his heart, knows almost nothing. But he wants to learn so badly. I cannot – I will not – fail him.

love, love, love. That is the name of the game. Love the kids, love the work. I tell myself each day that if I meet this two criteria, I cannot fail.

One Response

  1. CJK

    Hang on and hang in there. You ARE making a difference. And you are being changed in good ways you can’t see yet. And it IS exhausting. This kind of work is parallel to being in combat in terms of stress and fatigue so don’t feel you are failing when you are in contact with that. But also like being in combat, you probably have to stay in the fight for now because the war isn’t over and no recess bell will ring

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