La Vida Loca

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 26 2012

Spring has Sprung

The past two weeks have marked the beginning of a new trimester. They have also marked the end of one third of my commitment as a TFA CM. Time has passed so quickly and so slowly at the same time. Orientation seemed like a dream, Institute was a dream/nightmare, first couple weeks of school were a straight up nightmare. Yet as I have adjusted to the realities of life here, I still feel like Alice in the rabbit hole. It’s still hard to believe that I’m here, doing this after where I was last year.

I am so grateful to be here, but the last couple weeks of the winter trimester were really awful. I feel an enormous amount of guilt for my performance last trimester. I felt really poorly planned and distracted for the majority of the trimester. By the time I got myself back on track, it was too late: I had two weeks left to prepare them for an end of course that I knew I had not prepared my Spanish II kids well enough for. By some kind of miracle, one of the classes passed with over an 80% class average. This is also the class of students who had no kind of exposure to Spanish ever, so I don’t know really how they did it. The other class, however, did not. I know exactly why this happened, and to be honest, I don’t know if I’ve fully processed everything because it’s painful. I know it’s my fault.

Glenn* is one of my favorite students- he is smart and hilarious. He also had a really difficult home life. After his parents’ divorce, his father started doing and dealing drugs. I know that I lowered my expectations for him. I allowed him to continually sidetrack the class over and over again. Once I let the little things go, the little things snowballed as the trimester went on.  When I finally cracked down,  this student and I got into confrontations towards the end of the trimester that were absolutely  terrible. This behavior was a complete 180 from the hard worker and joyful learner I had in my classroom in the fall. I know that there were other things going on. I know I should have leveraged his mother and my administrators, but I just felt like the whole thing was spinning completely out of control and I felt frozen. There are a hundred things I would go back and change if I could. But I can’t, it’s too late. The trimester is over, and I will never have him as a student again. To have had such a great relationship with a student completely unravel in such a short time, and to realize how much I lost in the process, is a slap in the face. It was completely my fault; not only did I lower my expectations, but I was not the assertive, confident instructional leader I needed to be in my classroom. I let my classroom get off track to sate my students. I know that shoulda woulda coulda is so easy in the past tense, but I know it was an important learning experience. I just hate that what I learned came at such a high cost.

I need to let go and move forward. In order to level my kids with kids from Lexington, or Louisville, they need to be the best. And to be the best, every second of instructional time needs to be utilized. There is no time to waste. The daffodils are out in Kentucky – an early spring is coming. I’m ready for a new beginning. I’m ready to be the leader in my classroom I know that I can be.

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    "An Appalachian Adventure"

    High School
    Foreign Language

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