Teachin' Spanish For America

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 24 2011

The second half of Induction and “reflection”

Well, it’s 6:30 on a Friday, and what else would I be doing but sitting in a Barnes and Noble and thinking about Teach For America?

It has most assuredly been what I can only describe as a bizarre week.  While (after reading other blogs) I can say it was not the most negative 2011 Induction experience, it has certainly begun the process of desensitizing me to the very, very different things that I will be dealing with in the near future.

I am not about to espouse the 100% delightfully virtudinous (turns out that’s not a word yet, but it means virtuous) and aligned-with-me-in-every way individuals that I met this week.  This is not the case, and I really believe that is a strength and not a weakness.  We are not the same in many ways.  Overall, I found that Induction involved a healthy dose of unexamined privilege and the heavy social drinking on weekdays that I thought we left behind when we became college graduates.  Also overall, I genuinely enjoyed listening to what every single one of the 90 (that’s about double last years’ corps folks!) new friends that I made this week had to say.  I think that we will all get along well and be supportive in a time where we definitely need to be able to talk to people who are going through the same things we are.

There is at least one person in said corps and apparently at least two staff members who believe that I had a “bad attitude” in my first two days, enough so that a higher-up (who disagreed with them by the way) needed to pull me aside and talk about it. I’m still fuming about that, but moving on.  Teacher skin activated.

The week included a compliment from that higher up; as I mentioned in a previous post, I had a “choice” between two schools and I chose to accept the offer of an elementary school.  Turns out the principal at the other school was really bummed that he “lost out” on me and was telling this to my boss.  I found about this the day after my commitment was questioned, and I really appreciated hearing it.

We had a barbeque which culminated in some entertainment from schools around Newark (which, by the way, is pronounced NOORK).  It. Was. Awesome.  There was an elementary school that sang some (terrible, but inspirational), and three step teams.  Holy crap step is amazing.  I’ve never seen it live.  The last group was an award-winning high school team.  HOW COOL ARE THEY.  I can’t get over it.  I want to be them, except I utterly lack rhythm.  Don’t tell my former marching band.

Then, today at our closing ceremonies, Cami Anderson (TFA alum) showed up and it was really rad.  If you don’t know, Cami Anderson is the new superintendent of Newark Public Schools.  There is SO MUCH that is interesting about the educational scene in Newark that I really don’t want to get into now (but will definitely get into later in this blog).  Suffice to say that we had a lot of pointed questions for her, and she was delightfully candid (I thought) and refreshing.  She spoke to the fact that TFA is a great way to become a great teacher, but that there are MANY other ways.  I really liked that point.  There is a definite anti-teacher sentiment that is running through our corps and I really don’t like it.  We’ll see if it becomes something, stay tuned.

Other than that, I am fitting in I think.  I’m very good at using parroted lingo to express myself well–debate was a lot of that even though my debate coach HATED how good I was at it :).  Now my job had been worrying about Institute and the upcoming year.  I’m finishing up the Institute work now, and hoping that Institute itself helps to make the reading more cohesive than it seems to me.  I’ve been reading many, many other teacher books in preparation and an attempt to get another perspective from it.

I’ve also been hanging out a little bit with one of my soon-to-be coworkers (Shout Out to Alicia if she’s reading this), and it’s been a huge help.  She’s filled me in a little about the feel of the school and what the principal sees as my role in it.  I’m very much nervous but looking forward to the year to come.

I have chosen as I go into this to consciously make the choice to remain positive and focused.  My focus right now, the problem that I most foresee standing between myself and being a teacher (yehp, not even a GREAT teacher but a functioning one) is the needed confidence to be able to take risks.  This is something I am also supposed to instill in my children.  I spend so much time worrying about and considering the fact that as I’m working with young kids, I’m helping to START THEIR ENTIRE TRAJECTORY of learning and therefore success.  I need to stop and remember that THEY ARE SEVEN YEARS OLD and I am a couple times that.  I need to remember that more disservice is done through continuing to be mediocre (if I can even manage that) than through one failed lesson due to trying something new.  That’s me being candid, and holding myself accountable in front of the whole internet.

I want this for my kids, and I hope that I am even a quarter as good as my friends and family seem to think I will be (by the way, thank you friends and family for your amazing support).

An awkward ending but a fitting one; next time I update INSTITUTE WILL HAVE STARTED.


3 Responses

  1. Teach For Us Community Manager

    Your post has been featured on the slider at the top of the Teach For Us homepage. Check it out at http://teachforus.org/.

    Thank you for sharing your reflection. Have a good time at Institute.

  2. A life long fan

    I’m so proud of you! Stick to your guns. You are going to do so awesome. Be careful.

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