Facing La Frontera

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 09 2010

heart pounding


Last night, at 8 p.m., I still had no idea was I was going to teach today. Funny how that happens.

After perusing tfanet resource exchange for an hour (a blessing, but also a distraction once you get overwhelmed by the amount of resources you’re finding), I decided I didn’t want to teach what I had originally thought.

I’ve learned, through several failed lessons, that if I’m at all uncertain about the lesson or don’t have that “comfy” feeling or excited about teaching it feeling…..it’s going to bomb the next day.

Sometimes I hold off on something, and it works itself out in my head over the next few days, and then when I teach it, it’s like – booyah!

Anyways, I just kinda honestly threw some stuff together that would be reinforcements of things we have done. We had a grammar mini-lesson, “some” outsiders reading – aka let the classes that were behind catch up, and then partners writing a paragraph.

I don’t normally do partners. Maybe twice a month. It still scares me too much. But, since we’re having all new classes on Monday, I figure this would be a good test.

First and second period went surprisingly well. I tried to focus on 2nd periods good stuff more than the bad, and my misbehaving students were calmed, for the most part, by their strategically placed partners. Booya for effective partner pairing.

Even had a movie moment at the end. One of my students who is loud, has no self-control, and likes to goof, is really invested in the book. He LOVES it. He didn’t just want to read his story at the end…..he wanted to act it out. So he and two other boys who love to talk were in the front of my class being goofy, but using their scholar words and dialogue besides “said” to tell the story.

The class and I were rolling. It was great.

3rd period, if you remember, is great. They constantly amuse me, my lessons are better when they have me, and I just generally enjoy being with them. And I let them get away with a little bit more. They give me a hard time, and vice versa. Today’s thing was I wore my jersey from Argentina (part of the Drug Awareness theme), and some of my kiddos were “refusing” to talk to me b/c they were either for Brazil or Mexico.

We had JUST started the partner project when in walks the highest member of TFA in our region….the Executive Director….and another TFA staff.

My heart STOPPED.

It was controlled chaos in my room, and all of a sudden every little thing meant so much more. Just looking at the scene from their perspective, I’m sure it looked crazy, but I wanted to be like….NO! my students aren’t just getting out of their seats…..I told them before the activity that they could go look at the Word Wall. yes, there is a specific way they ask to go to the restroom.

They did lower their noise level when two men in suits walked in, but still. And I tried to just forget they were there……but the sweat and the heart pounding constantly reminded me otherwise.

A lo menos, I should get some awesome feedback about how to improve my partner work time…..since I’ve only used it about 6 times this entire year….I know it’s not nearly as effective as it could be.

Again, not a bad moment. In fact, I’m glad they’ll be able to give me feedback. And I’m ready for some – I don’t really feel like anyone is giving me concrete ideas on how to improve.

But literally stopped my heart.

Memorable moments:

—one student got in a fight last week and doesn’t get to go to our festival on friday bc of it. He’s a crier, so I took him into the hall to tell him personally. I thought we would make it without tears, but as I started class I saw the face turn red and the crocodile tears begin. Poor thing.

—another student, from 2nd period, had told me she had drastically transformed her behavior so she could go to fall festival. She has completely turned herself around, and I was delighted to tell her today she was eligible to go. She was delighted as well.

—during my special class, we read a story about knights. This class is BOY dominated, so I try to cater towards them. It worked :) I purposely left off the ending, and they had to work with me to annotate the text before I would read it to them. I know this next part was a “had to be there” moment, but I don’t want to forget it.

As the text reads, ” The knight, named —”

“JAKE!” interjects one of my students.

The class erupts into laughter. Their are 3 kids in that class with infectious laughter. I am laughing so hard I am crying. This makes the kids laugh more. We are rolling for at least a minute, until I get myself together and am able to finish the story. Good times.

–one of the girls who I reprimanded yesterday for tricking me brought me a little gift of a miniature plant today. :) She brought it for all the teachers, but I choose to think it’s because she’s sorry for tricking me.

Lastly, one of my best friends sent me an amazing slew of emails last night encouraging me, lifting me up, and reminding me why I’m here. She put something into perspective for me — I put my kids first by giving my all to them and suppressing my desire to be recognized.


Today was definitely a day where I just felt my heart was full of love for my kids.

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