Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Quitting Time

No, not me. I'm still here. But the return from Fall Break has been rough for everyone. It was like a respite from work reminded people of how much they give up to work as a teacher and the realization has set in a discouraged feeling. No one has ever quit the Nashville corps, but if you talked with any first year corps member they will probably tell you that they've thought about it, some more seriously than others. Coming back to starting a new graduate class that actually is trying to get us to do a teaching practicum on top of our regular job didn't make that feeling any better. Now, it's only half an hour a week, but the logistics is perhaps what made people most frustrated. I've only quit a few things in my life and let me tell you, it has not been accomplished without serious guilt and second thoughts.

Now, in contrast, I came back from a great back catching up with friends from back in college. While I know that teaching made for a difficult first year out of school, I realized how many of the things I'm feeling and going through are not unique to my job. Many of my friends feel overworked, exhausted, and are not entirely pleased with their jobs. I'd often wondered if I'd been part of the St. Louis corps if I would have been happier because I have so many friends in the city, but I realized I probably would have hung out in the same places and just felt guilty for not seeing my friends as much as I wanted to. One of the girls that I interviewed with about a year ago who was placed in St. Louis has already quit the corps there which was hard to hear.

When I came back, my uncle was in town. Now, now he and I had had dinner during week 1 of my teaching and this was week 10, beginning of the second quarter. We talked about a lot of things, including how teaching was going, and he said that he could tell from how I was talking about things that I sounded more confident. And I realized, I do feel better about teaching. I'm still struggling in a lot of ways, but since the beginning of the year I've figured a lot of things out. Do I still wish some things would change that I have no control over? Yes. Of course. Do I realize that some of the people I thought would be helpful aren't the best channel for advice? Yes. For sure. Is my data showing the kind of results I was hoping it would? No, not exactly.

They say that teachers hit a low in October, but then it begins to go back up. While I know that many of my friends here are struggling (despite being in one of the best ranked regions holla), I'm starting to feel like maybe that turnaround is starting. Did I put in an insane amount of work this week? Yes. I've taken to underestimating how much work I do for our Americorps hours out of habit as if no one would believe me that I put in 16, 17 hour days on a regular basis. But even though I'm exhausted, there's this new kind of energy that's pushing me through some of the work that I'm doing. Who knows how long it's sustainable, but I'm going to ride it however far it takes me.

So about the title to the entry? I'm quitting thinking about quitting. I'm quitting thinking about all the other things I could have been doing. I'm quitting thinking about all the things I wish were different that I have no control over. And finally, it's something I don't feel guilty about quitting.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Break -- a godsend for my mental health sake

Fall Break began on Friday for the kids, but with the professional development I've been to, today was really the first day. Sleeping in was glorious and I felt ready to tackle some of the projects I've been meaning to get to. Some of these projects are a result of the professional development I've had in the last week and really had the chance to process some of the things that have been going on. I keep seeing this break as the opportunity to restart and jump start some of the things I haven't done as well as I've wanted to thus far.

I've finally taken some more pictures of my classroom to get ready for making my first grant. My biggest goal moving forward, aside from the whole closing the achievement gap thing, is to get my kids excited about reading. I've spent the week trying to put together my literacy centers so that I can start guided reading.

My kids read at all different levels. Using Reading A to Z, my kids range from E to Q. What does that really mean? I have some kids that haven't quite reached first grade level and others that are practically on grade level. I love that my class includes the ELL kids on the grade level because they are so enthusiastic for the most part about learning, they just don't have the support at home. Sadly, several of my ELL kids are Nashville born and bred and 10 years later, they really don't have fully functioning knowledge in English and their working knowledge in the own language doesn't seem as though it's fully developed.

I have several stories I haven't had the chance to type up and that's my goal for break. Well, what's left of my working break. I'm giving myself an actual vacation and going back to college for a few days. I cannot wait. Many of my friends stayed around after graduation, I have a good number of friends still in undergrad, and one of my best friends will be in town from Chicago!!!

There are many times so far where I've thought that I had it better than I thought in college and I've had dreams where I'm back in school. I think going back will be odd, but at the same time, it will help me see how far I've come since graduation (aside from the scale that's told me I've lost 20 pounds since graduation)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Getting an Ejuckashon

Even though I hope my kids are learning from me, I'm amazed at the number of things that I learn from them on a daily basis. Things as mundane as their favorite colors, songs, and dances, to the truly saddening such as an already jaded perspective on life and how things are. Should nine and ten years olds really know about that? Whatever happened to the idea of childhood?

Despite the overwhelming waves of sadness I feel at some of my students offhand comments, I find myself alternating between laughing out loud and crying on the inside while I go over mounds and mounds of papers that need to be graded.

Some highlights from the different things I have to grade this weekend:

From the Language Arts section of our Friday quiz

--Directions: Write two sentences that are fact, two sentences that are opinion.
Response (from one of my girls who got really upset that her teacher crush, Mr. J, shared the same name as the example in a previous question which asked fact/opinion "Mr. Jones has two sons and one daughter")
Mr. J don't have children. You can't prove that Mr. J has children. Mr. J is a teacher. Is he cute or not.

From an assignment on writing declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences
--Is moisturizing a good thing? (from a quiet boy)
--Shut your mouth
-- W.keeps messing with me. W is in trouble for messing with me now.

From the district writing test
-Directions: You wake up as an adult. Write about what you do

-- have a child by the age of 25
--get a GED and spend 8 years in college
-- get an ejuckashon
-- have children and then get married
-- play for the Lakers. play for the Heat. Play for the Lakers
--buy a manshun
--Go get some Jordans