Teachin' Spanish For America

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 14 2012

It’s beeeeen One Week!

So I’ve decided to try and commit to a weekly reflection, posted here, about the week/my job in general/education in general/TFA haps in my region.  The wandering of a slightly crazed elementary school Spanish teacher :)

This week was our first week back at the job (we had two weeks off instead of the usual one).  A lot of people were very pleased with this.  I personally found it a bit too long — I hate “getting into the routine” of a break (I did in college too) because it makes it that much harder to get out of.  The two weeks also means that we don’t have a February break.  Regardless, as you may have seen in my previous post, I managed to more or less enjoy my break (dramatic personal life developments aside, alas).  This week has certainly been interesting.  Over break, I developed a nasty cough that hasn’t stopped since.  Even my kids were alarmed by the violence of my coughing.  Other than the cough, I’ve felt perfectly fine though, so I’ve just been trying to hope it goes away.  When that didn’t work, I left work a little early on Thursday to see my doctor.  She gave me an antitussive pill (which doesn’t work) and codeine for at night, which is $60 a bottle and made me so emotional I burst into tears and my evening turned into a therapy session within a half hour of taking it.  Oh well.  Back to hoping.

My lessons went well Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  I taught my lessons ENTIRELY IN SPANISH!  I would say that over the course of the week, I said less than a dozen words of English in any of my classes.  Not only did it feel great to actually get a chance to speak Spanish again, but the kids were DEFINITELY more engaged, the classes were certainly more rigorous, and they didn’t have time (most of the time) to misbehave.

That’s why when Thursday bombed it was even more depressing for me.  It was an evaluation day, one that I desperately needed to take in order to see how their first week of immersion had gone.  The lesson was planned badly, talking in English in order to make sure that everyone got the evaluation instructions sent them back into pre-Spanish behavioral mode, and the assessment was VERY confusing to them (not aligned to the LP … or anything we had ever done before).  Complete.  Failure.  I’ll be grading those tonight, but I have a feeling I know what they’ll look like…Sigh.

Friday was a really productive and positive day overall though, and so I went home in a pretty good mood.  I met with my MTLD about the letter you have already seen and we’ve figured out some strategies to “force” me into better habits — for me, and for my kids.  A lot of the problem that I’m having stems from my feeling that my administrative team cares not at all about my classes.  Perhaps it’s a bit of an inferiority complex.  They check LPs, double check them, watch them implemented, make suggestions to make them better.  But not my LPs.  In fact, there are weeks that I haven’t even sent them in (and then waited until the Sunday before implementation to write them, bad idea), and no one has noticed or cared.  My boss’s first two observations were after deciding to use this framework for “grading” teacher effectiveness based on the amount of nonverbal redirects they do during a class.  I receive no content input and support.

And I’m done whining (about that at least).  Anyway, My MTLD will be looking at my LPs the Wednesday before they are implemented, which then gives me a good amount of time to look over them before that Monday.  We’ve also worked time into my schedule to ensure that I am prepping my materials the week before as well, so I don’t feel rushed during the week and can spend a significant portion of time really considering my curriculum, which what I need to be doing during the day.

I really appreciate my MTLD because she spent her first year being a terrible teacher.  She was at a very well-regarded charter school, and was actually told not to teach for a portion of the year.  She went on to be an excellent teacher. It gives me hope that hard work can get me there, and she’s very insightful about implementable things that can help me get to where I want to go with my teaching.

I’ve heard a lot of complaints about “corps culture” on this website, some of them very harsh.  I would like to put out there that I like the corps culture that Newark Greater Region has, and I feel it’s getting better, not worse.  As a group, the great majority of us are strongly intellectual and passionate people and I feel that we are there for the next two years with a shared vision to be wonderful teachers for our wonderful kids, and support each other in growing as much as possible.  The people in my corps are genuinely nice, and genuinely smart, even if I don’t agree with their manifestations of care sometimes.  I think the staff is in this way supportive as well.  They need some help learning to cope with our increasing size, but I genuinely like and work well with the great majority of staff.  I just wanted to throw some contentment in this winter of our discontent.

Anyway, this weekend is feeling productive and I’m hoping that I continue in this vein in order to get ahead a little.  That’s when my kids will really be able to benefit from the work that I’m doing.  No point in working hard if it’s not helping my 120 favorite people.

I leave you with a most excellent note I found on an assessment:

Kids say the darndest things


2 Responses

  1. Kim

    Teaching is definitely harder than it looks! I go to a school twice a week to instruct student stage managers, and 3/4 of the time I feel completely useless. Just makes me appreciate teachers more!!!!

  2. Kurt (Community Manager)

    Congratulations! Your post has been featured on the Teach For Us homepage.

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