OK, so today is Saturday June 26, 2010...I feel like it is Saturday, June 26, 2020. The reason for this is simply due to the sheer amount of WORK (yes in all caps) that I have done this week. I am not going to complain...although i have been guilty of this in the wee hours of the morning (thanks to Jane Wu for being a champ and laughing at me so i know to check myself about what is important and the reason why I am up in the first place) but I am going to inform.
Last week, we all had the same schedule...minus the actual children/students. The addition of real students this week makes everything all the more stressful and all the more rewarding. I stress out because I know that my actions, preparedness, and mood will all directly affect each everyone on of them. I want to be the best teacher-ashley I can be for them, so i stress more than I would normally when just turning in work that is about nameless, faceless students. Its a similar feeling to hearing about a disaster on the news, and then, you happen to drive by the disaster or see it from an airplane...and your heart sinks so deep that you think your other organs will never be able to push it back up to where it belongs again. That is how seeing scores, hearing about previous experiences with "regular" (simply meaning the teachers students have during the year) teachers, and learning about what life is for my students outside the classroom felt for the first few days.
I get up every morning a 4:45. Toss on some pre-laid out professional clothes, grab a bagel, pack a lunch, and find a seat on the bus for an hour long drive to Greenville -Weston High school in Greenville, MS. I get off the bus and I am running (maybe not always physically) all day. After signing in for the day I re-read my lesson plan, think about execution, help my collab (partner in crime...and the classroom set up for her lesson and to clean off desks from the afternoon before, or I'll grade some assessments from my lesson the day before and enter them in the tracker. Then off to a TFA session to learn about lesson planning / classroom management / how to invest students and parents / how to balance it all / how to interact with students so you know if they are learning...kind if a huge reason we are all here! and many other things. 45 minutes of "flex time" is used by to re-read my lesson and walk through it in my head, then I use the rest room because it is go time come 9:45...I do not stop until 1pm. I've shared this because it is so important to me. haha. 9:45 I head to my classroom and my collab and I share an hour of instructional time with our class to focus on math (what i teach currently, last 2 weeks i teach reading!) and reading areas that are weak and need attention.
Pause: I'm teaching 6th grade students...about 18 of them. First 2 weeks = math, next 2 weeks = reading and word study. Just realized that was not make clear. Apologies.
Resume: After this hour....I'm the all-star and it's math time. 45 minutes of lesson, lunch, 45 minutes of lesson. Dismissal at 1pm. then two more TFA sessions. bus leaves at 4:15 ...return to greenville for 5:30. Eat, change, pack, head to student union for remainder of night (unless there is another TFA session...usually on literacy and/or how to administer a diagnostic test). I finalize the lesson for the next day and write a draft or two or three (depending on what is due) for 3-4 days ahead. Then I write up an assessment for the next day's lesson, a worksheet, some guided notes. (Print lab and copy center = more valuable than gold and influence, closes at 12pm sharp) so I race the clock to get this all done at 11:40 so i can get in line early enough to make it in to either resource room by midnight. I head back to the cave...shower...set an alarm...pass out hopefully by 1am. Up again at 4:45am the next "day".
I've shared this ridiculous outline of a A SINGLE day so that 1) you would all know that I am not slighting any of you by not texting, calling, emailing etc etc. I literally have barely enough time to make sure i eat every day. I am not complaining though...just informing.
In fact, I probably won't ever complain and it is all because of this "aha" moment that I had Friday morning. I was grading the assessments from Thursday's math lesson and my class had about 70 % mastery of the objectives. My lesson on Tuesday was around 40% (that might be too generous to myself). My heart swelled with pride and with joy. Pride for my students who were learning and showing themselves that they can be successful and joy at the fact that I actually am able to shape another human being for the better. I might not reach all of my extremely high goals for myself this summer, but I will feel successful as more and more students master new math objectives. I am learning here. I am making a difference in lives...lives i get to learn about... be a part of... and will hope with all of my being will be successful in the their upcoming school year thanks to the leaps they made this summer.
In sum, I am seeing and feeling a sliver of the impact that TFA teachers make across our great country everyday and I am honored, privileged, and stoked to be a part of something HUGE!!
Before I part, 2 tidbits of happiness to share:
1) Friday my students were on task (as they almost always are...my collab and I made it clear that we are not to be messed with...but we are there for hard work..and play if and only if the work gets done and done well!) but, they are always so focused that the TFA staff requested permission to tape them working and my collab and myself managing them and working during the hour we spend together everyday! I got goosebumps...I was so proud of myself, my collab, and my students for getting beyond the hard part of new faces coming together and learning about each other in our first week, and just getting down to the nitty gritty and churning out some work!
ps - they were even more amazing during the taping!
2) After the taping, a few girls were asked about their experience in our class so far and about what some of the rules and inspirational stuff we had up was all about. Of all that they shared, this quote hit me the most and was actually posted by my higher-up for all to see, "I like my teachers more than my regular teachers during the school year. I'm learning a lot and they make me feel like it is OK to get things wrong and to ask questions." Go ahead and try to tell me that wouldn't melt your heart all over the place, too.
I still don't know if teaching as a life-long career path will be it for me, but i do know now that I only feel alive when I am making a difference and helping others better themselves while they force me to better myself. I will certainly find a path that allows me to work hard, make a difference for others, and brings me this "alive" feeling every single day.
A rising tide raises all ships.