Sunday, June 24, 2007

False Endings

I still have 3 days with them.
We're making memory books (I spent $70 getting pictures printed) and finishing their portfolios and cleaning the room. Some of them have essays to finish, we have presentations to give....the days will be busy, and the kids are excited about everything we're doing.
So why, now that grading, report cards, and all of my IEPs are done, does it feel over? Why do I get a huge lump in my throat when I think about not seeing them every day, even though I know how much I need the break, both personally and professionally? They've accomplished so much, we've all learned so much, and it's time for the year to be over, but there's a little part of me,the part of me that felt like it would never end, that is not ready.
Today on the train I was worrying about who would watch them during the day.
Then I remembered - they have parents. The amount of responsibility that we take for them during the year is so substancial that to have it all taken away at 3:40 on Wednesday will feel a little...a lot...there's no word to describe it. My whole life here, for the last year, has been them, and now I'm given 2 months to reclaim it, for me, and it's daunting.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

While teachers across the country are on vacation, we are still in school. I'm not sure why...I have many theories, and when I am free of the confines of TFA I will probably voice them here, but until then I will just say that we are still in school.
My para got another job, which means I have a different substitute everyday. They always show up 20 minutes late. Sometimes they speak english. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes they stay awake for the whole day. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes they do what I ask them to do. Most of the time they don't.
"Man, I wish it was just us," Kevin said today. "We don't need anybody. It can just be us. We like a little family."
The sub came in and everybody groaned. I felt bad for her. On the inside I kind of groaned too.
I've tried including their names in word problems and giving them time to introduce themselves to the kids. The fact is the kids are tired of different people everyday. They don't even let the sub help them any more. They'll wait 10 minutes for me to help them while the sub just stands and watches. We're all kids, and we long for the routine that worked for us all year. Being forced out of it day after day is uncomfortable and instead of adapting we all rebel, me and my 13 babies.
5 more days...5 more days...5 more days...

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I decided to stay. Slowly, over the last 2 months...for 13 reasons. Joshua, Adony, Adrielis, Amanda, Mario, Elvis, Julius, Christopher, Jose, Iran, Malik, Kevin, and Yahkemp. In spite of the fights, and the weapons, and the times I've been hit.
Things have changed. Not drastically, but things have changed, and I'm learning the things I need to learn to be able to produce more change.
In the last 2 weeks I've spent 20 hours planning for next year with the 2 other teachers who are on the 5th grade team. I'll be looping with my kids so I'll be teaching 4th/5th grade students, mostly 5th grade curriculum.
It feels good to be going in to September with so much under my belt curriculum wise and knowing my kids. There's a big part of me that can't believe I'll be at this school for another year. There's an even bigger part of me that is so relieved that I will not be leaving my students for good in 17 days.
It's not time to go yet. They've made huge gains but we're not done. They're not the people they need to be for me to leave them. I want to see them graduate (5th grade, mind you, but it's a milestone to all of us none the less).
I want to leave and be ready to leave and be able to tell them.
I wasn't able to tell them.
Year 2 is 4 months away...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

TFA End of Year Reflective Guide

Qualitative Analysis: What are you particularly proud of in terms of your students' achievements this past year that are not captured in the quantitative data?

I am proud of the way my students learned to work together in a classroom. The culture in my room has done a complete 180 since September. From the way my students participate in games and behave during lessons to the way they treat visitors, my students are different people. Just the other day we had a visitor in my classroom and after my students left the visitor complemented me on their handshakes. I hadn’t even realized that they had all greeted her with a handshake. For the most part, they’ve learned to live and work together. They’ve learned how to laugh and let go of anger. They’ve learned how to trust. They’ve learned that there’s more to life than what they see outside of their window and they’re working together to get it. They’re growing up to be amazingly inspiring people. It doesn’t fit on a spreadsheet, but I’m so proud of that.

Minus 1 Makes 13

Loucchie was sent back to his old school.
"He needs to be sent to a home for bad kids," said his mother.
"He needs to be taught how to read," I said (to my Assistant Principal).
I'm scared for him, for his future, and for society in 10 years when he is angry at all the wrongs that have been done to him.
But he was only unofficial.
And I still have all the officials to worry about.
But still...I worry....about the one who left....and now instead of avoiding his building as I walk to the bus I look for the kid with the attitude and the beat up knuckles who saved his ice pops to show his grandma and who doesn't know all the letters of the alphabet and I walk slowly past his window, hoping he'll see me and shout my name, but there's only the sound of the ice cream truck and kids playing in the street and busses honking and the silence of one more kid....forgotten.