Sunday, August 28, 2011


I'd heard that Apple was encouraging people to donate their first generation iPads to Teach For America, but it barely registered on my radar. As a second year corps member, I figured any goodies would be given to the newbies.

But lo and behold, look what landed in my inbox this week from our TFA*Nashville Operations Director:

"What could an iPad do for your classroom and your students? Well, we're asking you to help us answer this question. Because of an extraordinarily generous initiative from Apple, you'll soon be receiving a first generation iPad for your classroom. Apple and its customers have donated iPads through a campaign that has featured Teach For America and our corps members in Apple stores across the country."

To recap: When Apple announced the iPad was coming while I was in college, I'm pretty sure I remember laughing out loud at how ridiculous it was. I had no idea how or why anyone would use this product or want to. When my college roommates dad had one that he brought out on a visit, I tried my darndest not ogle the strange contraption.

So here's my dilemma. While not a complete luddite, my knowledge of what the iPad could do in my classroom is limited. Having cultivated a number of tech-savvy friends over the years and my own proclivity for falling for enginerds, I know I know people who can give me ideas on how to best utilize this technology. If you've got one, shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

And it's begun...

Last year, I was overwhelmed by the number of kids initially in my room (27) and the number of kids that left and arrived over the course of the year.

I've already had my first student leave and it breaks my heart. The school was simply too far away for the family. He left unceremoniously on Thursday last week and I cleaned out his desk this morning.

Today was a grudge day -- kids would not stop talking, not taking consequences well, copier broken, copier fixed, copier out of toner. In essence, the usual added with an unusual level of tired. When I checked my email at the end of the day, I had this waiting for me in my inbox.

Hi Ms. Astronaut:  This is [Sarah], [Jon's] mom just writting to thank you for the help you gave him during the days he was at [your school].  He really enjoyed being with you as a teacher.  You are the first teacher that he have had that called to introduce yourself and being so helpfull.

Thank you I really appreciate how you make him feel at class.  God bless you for your great work.!!!!

Frown? Turned upside down. Here's to hopefully a trend of similar sentiments!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Keeping up with the Joneses

And we're officially back in business! Metro Nashville schools welcomed back almost 80,000 students on Thursday for the first day of school (albeit a half one at that). The week leading up to it was a blur of faculty meetings and room preparation, so much so that on Wednesday night I felt that familar "uh oh, what's tomorrow going to be like feeling?" that had disappeared over the summer.

Even as a second year teacher, there's a lot to keep track of. We have grown in size yet again! In the 2009-2010 school year, my school had about 260 kids enrolled. Last year, we hovered +/- about 10 from 500 for most of the year. On the first day of school this year, we had 650 students in the building with another 50 or so on the roll but who were not present (many people don't seem to understand that that first half day is so critical). The building itself looks the same, but the people within it look a bit different.

Changes thus far...

  • A new principal. I cannot begin to describe how excited I am to be working under her. I think every conversation we had as a staff managed to find its way back to "How can we best help the students? What do we as teachers need to accomplish this?"
  • An assistant principal! Numbers, not need, determine whether or not a school has an AP. Not only am I glad that responsibilities can be shared, I also have really enjoyed all my interactions with my AP
  • Coaches--Last year, we had a Reading Coach. This year, we have a (new) Reading Coach, a Numeracy Coach, AND three additional Coaches on leave from their schools to come and provide support to the 46 untenured teachers.
  • Inclusion -- this year, I will be co-teaching for 2 hours a day with our ELL teacher. I will also have another hour of the day where an Exceptional Ed teacher will be in the room. For someone who felt really alone in my room last year, the door this year is going to be pretty open with inclusion and 6 official observations.
  • New staff! - We've grown in student enrollment to the point where we have 6 teachers on each grade level. It's been a challenge to try and remember names, faces, and assigned positions as we've welcomed people into the building over the course of the summer. It will be confusing -- we now have several Smiths and confusing number of Joneses working in the building (at least 4...)
I'm a bit nervous about this upcoming year because I know I will be challenged to push myself to make my kids more successful. Adding several experienced teachers to my team has made me really see how much work I have to do to become a better teacher.  However, this year I feel prepped with the tools at my school to make those changes. After a shoddy relationship with my PD this past year, I look forward to a much more effective and supportive relationship with my new MTLD (Talk about overwhelming changes. My school had a ton, and then TFA went and changed things on me!)

I'll save my thoughts on my new kids until I meet all of them on Monday, but here's a preview.

I have a feeling I will very quickly be obsessed with them :)