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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 15 2010

Long Overdue Update

I have now been teaching for 8 weeks! AND I’m still alive! It’s a first year teacher miracle. Really. So what have I been up to in room M-5? Let’s update.

I’m approaching the end of my second unit, which is poetry. Poetry with children is fabulous and amazing. They write incredibly entertaining things. In general, 7th graders write hilarious things. I gave them a writing diagnostic a few weeks back to gauge their writing abilities (which is abysmal, by the way) and asked them to tell me about their BEST DAY EVER. For the most part, their BEST DAY EVER consisted of a party of some kind and candy and pizza. It’s fabulous. They also seem to be under the impression that being an adult means living wherever you want with your friends and lots of dogs and getting to eat candy and getting to stay up late whenever you want. I can’t wait until they find out the truth.

I’ve also saved some of their “We Respect Each Other Shout-Outs” so I’ll end this post with a few of my favorites. Shout Outs are definitely one of my favorite parts of the week. My kids are surprisingly sweet when they shout-out their friends. Some are just flat-out funny (like Chris’s) but some are super super adorable. Examples to come momentarily.

In general, I don’t have behavior problems in my room, which makes my life considerably easier. When there aren’t behavioral problems and the room is quiet and the kids are focused, teaching and learning can happen (or at least there is the opportunity for it to happen). Sometimes we have not great days or a student or two will just be squirrelier than usual, which is a little challenging. But I never have chaos. And I don’t have any huge problem kids. I do have a few children with chronic absences, which kills me. This one boy, Richard, has been here four days in the past three weeks.  Awesome. I wonder why he’s currently failing my class. But what really hurts me about him is that he is SO SMART! His quiz scores are awesome. But he’s not in class to do the work and he doesn’t complete homework. When he is in class, he’s a great student. But if he keeps missing school at this rate, he’s going to fall way behind. I personally haven’t been able to get in contact with his parents, but I was told the counselor met with his mother today, so hopefully that helps. Ohhh children.

I’ve also realized recently that the kids aren’t what make me crazy or cause me to have bad days; it’s the adults.  The adults who make the big decisions drive me CRAZY.  The kids are fine.  The kids are great, actually, if you know how to deal with them.  But it seems like every day I discover more adults making decisions that effect children negatively.  There are so many things that go on outside of my classroom that I have no control over but am forced to submit to, regardless of whether or not they’re good for children.  And I hate it.  I hate that I have to teach my kids how to write a 5-Paragraph essay when we haven’t had the chance to teach them how to write a single paragraph well.  I hate that 3rd Mod gets cut short every day and the kids never have enough time for independent reading and for practicing a new skill just because lunch dismissal takes so long.  I hate that one of my students isn’t getting the special services he needs to help him succeed in the classroom because his father won’t allow the school to test him for a disability.  I hate that I have to teach in a system that passes students along to the next grade, regardless of whether or not that child is ready for the next grade.  I have 7th graders reading at a 3rd or 4th grade level.  How did they get to 7th grade without anyone noticing they were falling behind or caring enough to help them get caught up?  It’s not fair to children and it sucks and it needs to change.

So that’s a little glimpse into what my first impressions of teaching are.  And now I’ll end with some happy, hilarious, Scholar Shout Outs.

To: Will

From: Hank

Because: he is a great scholar and his sense of humor. In a good way.

To: Everyone is Mod 5

From: Lou

Because: they’re all good classmates

To: Lou

From: Geno

Because: he gave me some silly bands he didn’t want. Thks!

To: Gigi

From: Coco

Because: you know everyone in the school. And your uniform pants are fresh! :D

Other random stories: 4th Mod thinks I’m 35 and married (“Um, of course she’s married. How could you think she’s NOT married? That’s mean.”).  I can’t keep a straight face in 3rd Mod (“What? My shirt’s untucked? OM GOSH HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?! It must have just FALLEN out! OM gosh I sooo did not do that! Ms. K can I slide down the rail? OM gosh you’re no fun.”).  1st Mod likes to ask questions (Me: “Do I have any questions about reading logs?” AB: “Ms. K, when does school end today?”).  And we officially have joke time in 5th Mod (what started as an attempt to make a moody girl laugh has now been instituted by popular demand).  Other things that make my kids happy: pictures of puppies and kittens, Q&As about college, Scholar of the Week reveal time (it includes “Chariots of Fire”), the party clap, the power clap, the marshmallow clap, poet snaps, raffle tickets, jolly ranchers, anything related to my personal life, asking questions in general, making fun of me (“You listen to Justin Bieber?? Umm, isn’t that a little immature?”), yelling Vocab SLAM and Let’s Get GRAMMAR, getting to go home early, and being timed on procedures.

Oh children.  :)

*Note: all names have been changed.

4 Responses

  1. I love this! I keep trying to imagine you as a teacher and slowly, with your help, I’m able to! Great job Jessica. I’m glad you can impact these kids’ lives in a positive way.

  2. Vicki Gebala


    I completely agree with what you said about adult decisions negatively effecting children. It takes a while to find out every student’s personal story- why they act the way they do, what their family life is like, etc. When I was student teaching in kindergarten I met several parents who refused to think that their child might need extra help, or that it was in their child’s best interest to repeat kindergarten because they were only four when they started. It’s a battle we will never over come.

    I’m so proud of you and excited to hear that you are doing well. I am still looking for my own classroom…I’m subbing in Yorba Linda and in Fullerton, but it’s not the same as having your own students to look forward to every day. Keep up the great work and bless your heart for making a difference in those kids’ lives!

  3. Kim Fake

    So exciting! I’m glad you’re enjoying your job. Sounds like your kids are enjoying your teaching just as much. :)

  4. Ms. D

    Hey I love your blog! Please please post again so we can see what you’re up to!! :)

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2010 D.C. Region Corps Member writes a blog

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