Teachin' Spanish For America

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 21 2011

The first 2 days of Induction

Welcome back to my wonderful world of procrastination!  I’ll be your host this evening.

Actually, while I am procrastinating, I really also want to legitimately write down some of what I’m feeling so that I remember in the months and the years to come.  Which is not to say that you should get your hopes up that this will somehow be a life-altering post about much of anything.  But bear with me and I’ll share some info as to how Induction has been going for me so far.

Monday was a long day for me; without the resource of a car (which I can’t have until I get a letter of intent from the school…) I’m relying on J to drop me off at the train station and since he had to work at 9, I was rocking out at the train at about 8:50.  Except it’s about an hour train ride, and I wasn’t allowed to check into Induction until 2.  SO I did some excellent reading at the train station, then transferred my reading to Newark Penn, and then meandered over to Rutgers and did some reading/semi-silent rocking out to my iPod/Starbucksing near the check-in building.

That night we had our Induction dinner, where we went over our inevitable acronym (F.I.R.E.D. U.P.!), and I’ll tell you what it means if you want to know but I seriously cannot remember off the top of my head.  It feels like in our sessions we’re focusing more on the tenets of TFA instead of the acronym, and I actually like that better anyway since it’s a little more thought out than “What can we rally people whose first letters also forms legitimate words?”.  Today we had sessions on Transformative Change, as well as two on Leadership.  It involves a lot of listening to really earnestly narrated Powerpoints, and then talking as a larger group or in smaller groups regarding some thoughtful questions.  I find these two aspect to be not unimportant but boring.  I also have been idly wondering if all the TFA Inductions have the same programming with fill-in-the-blanks for the regional slides on the Powerpoint, or if the entire conception is left up to regional staff.  Hm. What really gets me (FIRED UP) is the video testimonial from students and teachers and footage of teachers in their classroom.  There was one especially of a teacher from my region who teaches K-1 Spanish with whom I have really wanted to get into contact and watching the video of him and his kids really cemented that for me.  I think he’s going to be a great resource…of course this entire time I’ve been imagining my classroom and itching to get more info (like exactly which grades I’ll be teaching and if I have my own classroom or will be carting it) so I can start getting things started so I’m 250% ready for the beginning of the year.  I’m really, really excited.

Unfortunately I haven’t managed to translate that excitement into doing the pre-Institute work–though I have read several excellent books that came highly recommended.  I’m finishing up the fourth exercise of eight.  It’s a doozy, though it’s the first that the whole time I was working on it I was thinking about how useful it will be in very concrete ways in my classroom.  I hear the fourth is the hardest to get through and that after that it gets easier.  Let’s hope so because I have quite a bit to get through over the next few days…

Mentally I’m attempting to focus now on soaking in as much of this experience as I can, getting to know fellow CMs and a feel for TFA as an organization when I’m standing in the same room as them.  I got to meet some of my future coworkers, and a lot of interesting people.  I mean that in many ways.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of this week and then Institute following brings, though I admit to being truly nervous.  I have no idea what I’ll be teaching at Institute, but I do know that some very young Spanish students will be waiting for me when I get back.  It’s an adjustment for me, as I definitely though chances were good I’d end up in late middle or high school, where much Spanish instruction traditionally happens.  I love the idea of it, a lot, it’s an idea I can really get behind and advocate.  But I still haven’t even thought about how children that age learn.  It’s a conversation-based class, because they certainly aren’t going to be writing essays to me in Spanish.  Do they even write?  I don’t think so.  So much to learn… But I really, REALLY want to learn.  And I’m committed to getting started writing right away.  I am certainly not ashamed to admit my ignorance and ask for help.  That’s a start, right?

Here’s to another few days of time with these individuals, to learning, to igniting or maintaining a passion and a fire in the face of upcoming challenges.

5 Responses

  1. Kathy Low

    Hey Heike! I’m SO proud of you! You will totally rock this job! Definitely keep your contacts close. One of the things I learned in the 4 yrs on School Committee at NM is that districts often really stink at mentoring the younger teachers on class management. Some people just have “it”, some need a little help. I think you’re one of the former not the latter :)

    I started out in music education, then switched to elementary and decided that I really wasn’t cut out for it, but I so admire those who have the guts and the talent for it. Your students will be all the better for the decision you made! Looking forward to hearing more!

    • Thank youuuu! Both for support and advice! It’s definitely going to be one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. Luckily TFA offers alot in the way of support. I’m so glad you’re reading :) :)

  2. This is super exciting, Heike, and I’m looking forward to keeping up with your adventure.

    • A million times thank you, Sam. Really looking forward to talking to you soon.

  3. hcook

    So, I’m currently at Induction over in Detroit and, yep, sounds right like here with the PowerPoints and small groups discussions. We haven’t had video since the audio system broke on the first day, but the rest sounds the same.

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