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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 01 2012

It works and it’s work

Made it through Week 1 of Institute! This past week was simultaneously the longest and shortest week of my life. The week was a blur of learning about and then planning lessons, classroom management, investment, reward systems… the list goes on. We spent a lot of time discussing how to better invest our students and families in their classes through avenues such as frequent parent contact, and one of the key takeaways was “It works and it’s work” — it takes a good deal of effort to build solid relationships with students and their families but it’s worth it in the end. That motto underscores pretty much everything we’ve been learning at Institute — all of the material and strategies we’ve been presented with will take a lot of concentration on our part to implement, but in the end our hard work will make us all better teachers in the classroom.

In addition to the incredible amount of content we have been presented with, we’ve also been learning a new language — one that consists entirely of acronyms and abbreviations. For example, this morning I talked to my collab and then consulted my WIDWATW (pronounced ‘widdawadda’ — this one is my favorite) to find out what I needed to turn into my CMA and then opened my LP to work on my INM, GP, and IP sections. I referenced what I learned in my CS session about the BMC to work on my classroom management plan. Additionally, our school sites are run by SD’s who get help from SOM’s and then we have sessions with our CMA, LS, and CS…….. the list goes on. I’m sure non-TFA people who hear us talking about our work think we’re crazy, but it sure is efficient!

School days went by kind of slowly since we were in sessions all day — we spent a whopping 45 hours at our schools trying to absorb the foundation of information we need to be effective teachers in the classroom. We’ve been fantasizing about students all week as we learn all about how to teach, manage, and build relationships with them. But, it’ll all be worth it TOMORROW when we finally start teaching! That’s right, after months of preparation I will finally be getting into the classroom . My precalc class will have 28 students, and I split teaching the 1.5 hour period with my collab (so I’ll be lead teaching for 45 minutes a day). My class is pretty big for a summer school class, but I’m excited since it will prepare me well for the fall.

Thursday and Friday were especially exciting days as we got a lot of time to plan and set up our classroom — my school has an Olympic theme this summer, so my collab and I decided to piggyback on that for our class theme: Mathlympics! We’re going to split the class into three ‘countries’ and throughout the four weeks they can earn points for their country in various ways such as being prepared, answering questions correctly, volunteering to present an answer, academic excellence, etc. We’re hoping it will be a fun way to get our students more invested in class. My big project on Friday was making a poster displaying our theme — I’m pretty happy with how it turned out (see below)! Also on Friday, we learned more about the demerit system for the school. We role played some scenarios in the morning about different infractions to get a little more comfortable with it, but being strict and giving out demerits will definitely take some getting used to.

The week was exhausting and we were all really excited for our first weekend in Philly. This weekend there was a ‘Taste of Philadelphia’ festival going on, so yesterday I headed downtown with some people to check it out. There are a ton of people in town in anticipation of the Fourth and so all of the historic areas were really crowded, but I still saw the Liberty Bell and the outside of Independence Hall. Then, at the Taste of Philly festival down by the water I had my first authentic Philly cheesesteak! It was definitely a great way to spend my first weekend here — but now on Sunday we’re all back to work and getting ready for the week. We only have four days of teaching since Wednesday is a holiday, and I already have rough drafts of lesson plans for three of those days so hopefully I won’t be too swamped, but after Monday I’ll have a ton of papers to grade every day. But for now, my lesson plan for tomorrow is finalized, handouts are printed, and classroom is prepped… so begins my life as a teacher — can’t wait!

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    Teaching, laughing, and (for the most part) loving life as a first-year teacher in Boston

    Greater Boston
    High School

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