Friday, August 25, 2006


I passed my certification tests! If you remember, I prepared for them by eating junk food and talking to my mom on the phone.
1 less worry.
Still no internet access.
Life is chaos and there's no students to give it focus....yet.
10 more days!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

An attempt at a vacation in Kansas with my family + more TFA training + the start of grad classes + an apartment that is still in transition because the belongings of 1.5 out of 3 roomates are present = 1 very distracted girl with no time (or internet access) to blog.
Our first day of grad classes was today, with our second full day being tomorrow. I have a literacy workshop all of next week, then school training the week after that.
At some point I want the training to stop so I can PLAN.
Relaxation and sleep would be great too, but planning is my first priority right now.
Things will slow down, I'm sure, and the first day of school will come whether I'm ready for it or not, and I know me and I will be ready.

On a side note, a friend and I got lost looking for empanadas and ended up down on Wall Street at the Trump Building. Talk about tourist central! Pictures and crowded street food stands and people who stand - STAND - in the middle of the sidewalk make for very frustrated...'New Yorkers'. Are we New Yorkers yet???

Monday, August 07, 2006

Maybe it was the 20 boxes of 10 cent crayons or the 30 spiral notebooks (also on sale for 10 cents) or the 8 boxes of markers that gave me away but somehow the Target checkout lady knew.
I was a teacher.
"Where do you teach?" she asked.
"The Bronx," I told her.
"Oh, that's nice," she said.
She continued scanning crayons and notebook paper and stickers until it clicked.
"The Bronx? Like New York City?" she asked.
"Yep," I said with a smile on my face. The pride my students have in being from the 'BX' has rubbed off.
"Wow, I bet that's scary," she said, still not scanning.
"Actually, I love it," I said, still smiling.
The next couple of minutes were full of scanning, then pauses to ask questions I could tell she wasn't sure were appropriate. She wanted to know if my students brought guns to school, what their families were like, if there were metal detectors and police officers in my building.
One by one I answered her questions and after nearly every answer she would say, "God bless people like you."
People like me???
She continued scanning and totaled up my supplies. By now other people in line were also involved in my story, asking similar questions and giving me similar 'God bless you' looks.
I picked up my bags full of pencils and paper and folders and scissors and walked confidently out of the store, having shared more of my life than is normal for a 2 minute checkout line conversation.
"I'll pray for you!" said the check out lady as I left.
The phrases 'people like you' and 'pray for you' stuck in my mind all day.
The stereotypes people have about my kids make me sick. The only way to break them is to keep sharing, honestly, what has been my experience.
My experience has been that my kids, who have lived much more life than I had at their age, just need someone to teach them how to believe in themselves.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Tomorrow is clean up the school day.
Time to take down posters and erase chalkboards and make it seem like we didn't spend the last 5 weeks pouring every ounce of ourselves into that building.
Our room, however, will stay as is at the request of our summer mentor teacher. The kids are invested in our system and are already upset enough about us leaving that to change the room would only remind them of the fact that we are not coming back. To hear that come from the person who sat in the back of the room as a bystander on both our best and worst days is possibly the biggest compliment we've gotten all summer.
In the process of investing our kids we also invested ourselves and in each other.
The feeling of having made it though this experience is impossible to explain to someone who hasn't been through it.
It's exhausting and inspiring and humbling and unbelievably intense.
I've ridden on 100+ degree school busses and eaten bagels with gross cream cheese and soggy veggie burgers for over a month now. I succeeded and failed and laughed and cried and I can safely say, as I near the light at the end of the tunnel grows near, this is the most important thing I've ever done in my life.
Don't believe me? Ask me to send you pictures of my students.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Tomorrow we celebrate!
The finishing of papers and mastering of concepts.
The passing of time and the perseverance that brought my students to school even when it was "optional".
The fact that, together, we learned...them from us and us from them.
That they will, in less than a month, walk in to someone's classroom as 7th graders.
There is so much to celebrate but try as I may I cannot get comfortable with the idea of celebrating our departure.
I need more time with my kids.
Maybe not need - want.
I fell in love with all of their too many hormones and not enough deodorant selves, and now I have to leave them.
I will celebrate my own freedom on Friday with no reservations. I am ready to leave this place and when I return the relationships I have formed will be here to welcome me back.
But tomorrow I leave my kids. Not the bureaucracy and red tape and micromanaging, but the best part of this whole experience - my students - and the lump in my throat won't go away...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Shout Out To Myself

All my lesson plans for this experience are done.
Tomorrow my kids turn in their final drafts. I can't wait to read them. Check back for highlights - they have a lot to teach all of us.

What would DCA think about our white girl dancing?

After sitting in an unairconditioned auditorium with 550 other sweaty, smelly, preoccupied corps members and being told that "we are Teach for America" even though the very fact that we have to be told that proves that we aren't....yet....we de-stress.
Eminem blasts out of laptop speakers and we dance around.
We should be lesson planning.
We should be grading.
We should be reading or collaborating or contemplating...
But we dance.
We look rediculous and laugh and if feels like life, if only for a few minutes, is a little more balanced.
When we're done we pack.
Not too much, but enough to comfort ourselves with the fact that we're almost done.
Soon we'll quit packing, quit dancing, finish lessons, talk about our amazing students, and go to sleep.
Tomorrow we'll be better teachers because we danced.
We'll be sane people because there is a half packed suitcase that serves as a reminder that even though we're almost done we have 2 more days to make an impact.