Teachin' Spanish For America

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 23 2012

My kids: infuriatingly awesome

Weekly update here.  You know, I think three weeks after the last one.  I’m bad at this game.  I’ll start with some stories that I never, ever want to lose and so I hope I read this site when I’m a million and one.

First off, a kid that I have a lot of trouble with. I recently informed him that the Spanish equivalent of his name is “Alejandro.”  He then crossed out his name on his exit ticket and wrote “Alahonderow” and sang Lady Gaga to himself for the remainder of the period. I found this to be slightly endearing/entertaining/wonderful.

Then there’s a pair of kids that I supervise during recess (which was a LOT of fun today, I love recess usually).  As they were heading out, someone goes, “I like your jacket” to my scholarly friend N.  K says “his African American jacket?” I take a look at N to realize he’s wearing a typical letterman’s jacket (in miniature since he’s in first grade).  I still don’t understand that but I thought it was hilarious.

On a more serious note, I finished up another round of vocabulary lessons today and so our exit ticket also counted as their weekly quiz.  I’m grading them tonight.  In one class many finished early and I asked them to write a note to me about whatever they liked (shout out to their gen ed teachers — at the beginning of the year they were complaining that they don’t get to draw pictures, and now they accept the fact that they are writing without complaint).  One student wrote the following letter to me –

Dear Ms. Domine you rock.  I wish you are my teacher for ever.  But I know one day you will have to leave and go to another school.  But when you leave you will allways stay in my heart for ever and ever.  I will always love you!

This child, one of my students, loves me desperately.  And there is no doubt in her mind that I will abandon her.  Consider that for a second.

I know that I complain a lot, and vocally.  I think there are many things lacking in this process that I am going through so that I ultimately will not become the excellent teacher I want to be as quickly as I want to be an excellent teacher.  Content knowledge is not a problem for me and in that way I am glad I can be of service to my kids in a meaningful way.  But I need a reminder like this every once in a while, not from another adult doing this work or supervising me as I do this work, but from a child who has literally no idea of the impact of her words.

My kids have no idea how much I love them, and that truly boggles my mind.  J will never know that this note made me cry.  Another student, Z, is going through a tough time and I think about him often.  He’ll never know that I wish I could just take him home with me, fix everything in the world for him, and make sure he’s got all the tools he needs to succeed that he doesn’t have access to right now.  The only thing I can do is think of him often, make sure he knows I’m seeing him try to be a better student (lots of behavior issues), and be there for him.  Oh, and teach excellent Spanish. We’re working on that.

I cautiously say that I believe my curriculum and instruction to be getting stronger.  I’m finding a swing of things that makes me believe students are learning — better exit ticket results, more and more meaningful participation, etc.  I have a LONG way to go.  But I am optimistic.

So I sign off tonight with a thought or two for my kids.  That my life is nothing compared to the 120 that I am helping to grow.  I hope I get better at it so they can get stronger and wiser in ways I can’t even imagine :)

–Heike

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