I have had pretty much the most amazing start to this year.
Last year at this point, I didn’t know how to call parents since pretty much none of them spoke English, I had a set of inconsistent consequences that was getting exhausted pretty much every day, I had sent at least one kid to the office, and began to oversee classes filled with student profanity and obscene gestures that I had no way to stop.
But this year, none of it. There are areas for improvement, and there are several class periods that I need to keep my eye on. But for the most part, it’s a complete 180 from last year.
I’m sort of confused. I’m a lot better at what I am doing, no question. I had a student moved from my classroom to another teacher’s classroom, and when I found out he was moved, the new teacher was greatly concerned — none of the other teachers on my team were able to control him, but somehow I was.
My presentation at the start of the year was also much stronger – I have no vested anthropological interest in what it is like to be a 7th grader, since I learned the answer to that question… and much more… And although last year’s students were extremely interested in why I came to this town, my new students – who do not know what Teach For America is – could not care less, and value me as a member of the community rather than as a mysterious outsider.
Key to the rest of the year is going to be a focus on student-driven learning, with extremely brief introductions to new materials in order to allow students to do the actual learning and discovering themselves. I also need to work in advising Student Council. And I feel like with the time saved from calling parents and dealing with discipline, I will really be able to support my lowest students with additional resources.
Is it different kids or a different me? TFA and my administrators would probably point me toward the latter, but I think the former has something to do with it. My 7th grade students just seem much more like 6th graders, and hence more malleable in their behaviors and attitudes.
All together, these factors are giving me a great advantage going into the second year. The challenge, of course, is whether I can improve upon the outcomes of last year. And for the first time since applying to TFA, I feel optimistic that change can happen.
(also, apparently I can’t embed YouTube movies, so here’s some Celine.)