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Welcome to my blog! I use my blog as a way to reflect, share, organize, and re-conceptualize my views as an educator. Enjoy and feel free to comment, post, disagree, and share your opinion. The more perspectives, the better!

Friday, July 1, 2011

I get by with a little help from my friends

This has not been a week of my finest moments as a teacher or as a student. I was (and still am) tired, frustrated, and most importantly ready to make a change.

Our Nashville staff told us over and over again during Induction that there are no selection mistakes in this program (as long as you were honest in your interview process) and that we were selected to join TFA based on a combination of the following things: leadership, relentlessness, and our understanding of the achievement gap and a belief that we can make a difference in closing it.

We are not the type of people who run away from our problems and the majority of us hate to not be good at something. Right now, we are not exceptional teachers. We have our moments, but we are not there yet. So what makes us different? We cannot stand that we are not exceptional. We will do whatever it takes to become exceptional teachers. We might complain, but we know it is worth it. We know our kids deserve exceptional teachers. Like I said, we do not tolerate not being good at something.

That is where the selection criteria comes into play. We were chosen because TFA knows that we are the type of teacher that will do whatever it takes--whether it be working 20 hours a day for 5 weeks straight for free, moving across the country, missing weddings and graduations, or driving a student home each night so he/she can attend after school tutoring--we will do it. Even more importantly, we work to develop personally and professionally. We are hungry for feedback and though we might not like hearing it, we take criticism humbly and learn from it.

I believe that I was given this opportunity for a reason and I believe that I can make an incredible impact on my students now and future students in Nashville. I really believe this, but at the same time this week I needed a reminder of that. I realized that this week I was miserable, my students, were miserable and to be perfectly honest there was no learning going on. I realized on Tuesday that I had set low expectations for myself that were impacting my students. It was enough to get through a lesson or enough to have a few students get it. Mentally I had had enough, but this is not acceptable for me. I needed to take ownership of my classroom and student learning and get back on track. Tuesday was a terrible day, but by the end of it I was ready to make some changes. I am lucky enough to have the support to make so many changes and quickly.

Shout outs go to all of the following who helped make my action plan turn into a reality...

- My FA who observed Tuesday's Train Wreck (pun 100% intended) and helped coach me through Wednesday to start a turn-around.
- My CMA who stayed an extra 1/2 hour with me to talk through my observation debrief and my plan for the rest of the week.
- My Collab who let me re-arrange our classroom for a way that worked better for me, worked as a team to problem-solve behaviors certain students were exhibiting, and joined forces as we quadruple teamed them on Wed (it is all about consistency).
- My roommate and fellow CMs who listened to me vent and/ or shared and empathized through shared and similar experiences.
Wine Wednesday: A new tradition, classiness will increase
 upon moving out of the Delta State dorms. Eventually we will
move on to glass cups and our own corkscrew!
...and finally...

My friends from home. On Tuesday night my TFA roommate and I talked about how we had both lost a lot of confidence in ourselves over the past week and that we were starting to feel like our identity was being controlled by TFA. The reality is that we were not feeling like ourselves and all of those things that we were selected for were not showing. We missed having lives and being people beyond institute. Our students needed to have real teachers and to do that we needed to feel like real people. So I reached out to some of my friends and asked that on Tuesday they send me some love via text. I cannot tell you how much better they were able to make my day. Each one of them said something and did something that helped me get back on track. I got my first text as soon as I woke up in the morning and my last one after school had let out for TFA day (Totally Free Afternoon....another amazing part of my day).

I have my texts from each of them locked in my phone. I am sure that there will be other days like Tuesday, but these texts are little pieces of inspiration and motivation that will be there for when those days happen. I will probably look at them on the great days too.

One friend went above and beyond a text message.
I could not be luckier to have friends this awesome.
Sorry for rambling...I am tired and wanted to get as much of my life out on "paper" as I could before bed time. Good night :)

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