grammar geek

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 02 2008

Day Three: Ups and Downs. T-Minus Five Days to Teaching.

Let me first thank everybody for all of their kind comments. They help keep me going.

So today was up and down. Ups included a bunch of stuff – finishing those objectives last night was a big one, especially because my CMA, Cree, told me they were outstanding. I was really pleased by that and woke up this morning feel great, if tired. It’s funny; Sunday night I got to bed after eleven and couldn’t sleep. I woke up several times and even woke up before my alarm, mostly out of nervousness. Monday night I was in bed by 10:30 and only woke up once or twice. Last night I got to bed, again, after eleven because of test grading. I slept like a baby, but that meant that 5:15am came awfully early this morning, in the words of my roommate. I went off to school after breakfast, though, with a bounce in my step – I was ahead on my work and feeling really, really good. The morning went pretty well, too. First, we had a session on lesson planning and then, after administering some quick reading diagnostics (couldn’t get to the long forms yesterday b/c they were taking a science test when I got back), we had a session on Literacy (which was awesome, our LS [literacy specialist] is a Metro DC alumna who is really cool). That was fun and I felt great after it (mostly because I could remember the phonetic alphabet), and then we went to a session about planning rules and consequences.

After that, things took a little bit of a turn.

So to recap: great day so far. Realizing I had some work ahead of me in terms of lesson planning, I rushed off from the rules session to the lesson planning clinic for literacy instructors. I ran into my SD (School Director, like an Institute Principal), who asked if I was going to the literacy room. Not knowing that there was a difference between the literacy room and the literacy session, I said, indeed, that was my destination. She told me they had relocated that session to the auditorium, when actually the Social Studies lesson planning clinic had been moved from the literacy room because it was locked. It was a simple miscommunication – nobody’s fault, just unfortunate. I got upstairs to the session and they had already gone through a bunch of it, so I tried to catch up but was just totally overwhelmed. I talked to the CMA in charge of that session, who said that she didn’t really know what was going on because she was a Math teacher. She inadvertently told me to use the wrong template and I just ended up getting even more frustrated and upset. I left the room and ran into the SD again. She was smiling as always, and politely asked me how my session went. Not really being in the mood for talking, and feeling already pretty upset, I tried to answer generically. It was okay but confusing. She pressed on – what was I confused about, what needed work. I could feel myself starting to crack – probably due mostly to stress and the small amount of sleep this week. She asked me if I wanted to take a walk with her and talk to her, which I agreed to. We walked down to the end of that long hallway and I just started crying. I’ve been working incredibly hard with almost no breaks this week. That’s not to say it hasn’t been more than three days, but I’ve been working so hard. I’ve been freaking out about this for about a month and now it’s here and I’m just coming to grips. My SD was really supportive and kind and had lots of great things to say to me – apparently the CMAs, the SOM (School Operations Manager), and the SD herself had all been talking about what excellent work I’ve been doing and how much effort I’ve been putting in every step of the way. The SOD walked up, too, and had really good things to say – she’s a 2nd year Corps Member and shared some of her experiences about Institute. It was really nice of them – I could tell they really wanted the best for me. I took off – not really because I felt a lot better, but because I had work to do. After sitting and staring at my laptop for 10 minutes, I left with it to find our LS and ask her, herself, about what I needed to be doing and found I had been using the wrong template entirely (as advised by the CMA in the Planning Session), which served to frustrate me more. I wish my session had been with my own CMA – he is amazing and helpful, even when he doesn’t know the answer. The LS and I talked until the buses were practically pulling away. The SOM told me to come by if I needed moral support, another really kind gesture on her part.

In short, I guess this was my first really, really long day. The SD and SOM told me the reason I was upset is because I’m digesting the fact that there is a huge and really steep learning curve more quickly than others and that I’m trying to overcome that hurdle really quickly. It’s a process, and we’re working together on it. The lesson plans I have due tomorrow are just drafts. One step at a time and I’m going to do this. Please don’t let my getting upset make you think that I’m doubting myself; it’s more that I’m just working really, really hard and stress combined with tiredness can get to a guy. Your love and support means everything, readers.

So, adding to the list of TTL knowledge for next year…

12. Don’t be afraid to talk to the higher ups at your school if you’re nervous/scared/upset/anything. I viewed the SD and SOM as people who were too busy administrating to talk to me, but they wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing if they didn’t care about you and your mental health and your progress a lot. They are great people. Reach out them as resources who are there to help you.

13. Clarify things as soon as possible after they get jumbled. If you can’t get the information you need from someone you’re talking to, then go up the chain immediately and get things clarified. The last thing you want to do is get behind – it’s overwhelming as Hell.

14. Everything is going to be fine. I think this is more for me than my TTL kids next year. =]

One Response

  1. Mom

    Hey, Guy,
    It sounds like you are doing all of the right things…hang in there, you have a lot to learn, but you’ll be great! We are very proud of you!

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A portrait of the artist as a Teach For America Corps Member.

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