Soft Eyes

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 24 2011

True Confessions of a Newly Minted Teacher

The first true confession being that I’m usually so frazzled and brain dead after the day is done that I’m in no mood to blog. I want to be oh-so-pithy and clever you see, and that’s just not the headspace I’m in by the time I get (somewhat) caught up on work. But being honest is more important, right? So if this post is short on keen insight or chuckles, know that it is at least accurate.

So this week is the first in which kids referred to me as “Mrs.” rather than by my first name– I’m having a hard time adjusting to it. I straight up introduced myself to a student as “Danielle” at one point and then we both immediately burst into apologetic giggles. I figured the kids would hold it over my head for the rest of the week at least, but they were gracious about it; really my co-teacher and I just answer to “ma’am” more often than not. Yeah I know. It’s pretty adorable.

We had two students on the first day, which was pretty devastating. Two wonderful, earnest, super motivated students, mind you, but the class was in danger of getting canceled (at least one of our sister programs at another school site did get the axe). Luckily the leadership at our school is super committed to bring creative writing to kids who will otherwise probably never get the chance to take it, and they pulled some strings and made some phone calls and as of today our roster boasts nine–count ‘em nine– really wonderful young human beings. I guess a best-case scenario would be me teaching 30 surly, unhappy kids, to get me good and ready to be a tough guy teacher in the fall, but really for a writing class nine is just about perfect: small enough that they’ll get close and trust each other and everyone will have enough time and opportunity to get plenty of feedback, but large enough to have lots of different opinions and styles on display. So basically I get to have a wonderful summer and what will probably be a very trying fall.

The kids impress me every day. TFA (and my own experience with the students I worked with in Cal-SOAP) teaches that the kids we serve really just need someone to believe in them and hold them to high standards. But these kids don’t need me to believe in them any more than a dog needs a subscription to Cat Fancy. They believe fiercely in themselves, the value of their education and the work we’re doing in class. They all plan on going to college. One wants to go to law school, another wants to be a psychiatrist, and another plans on curing AIDS (you know, no big deal). All this “get the kids invested” stuff TFA has been stressing? I don’t have to really do much. The kids just bring it, every day. And they’re getting better, every day. And it’s inspiring but it’s also really intimidating when you can know exactly the sort of teacher that they need but you’re very aware of how you’re just not that person yet. But I’m working on it.

One Response

  1. juliannect11

    That is so awesome that your kids are that committed already! I am teaching 9th grade ELA and my kids have to pass the Regents Exam at the end of the summer. I have been thinking of investment strategies, and how to fit them into the packed day!

    Keep up the good work Mrs. Smith :)

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