Facing La Frontera

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 23 2012

Smiles :)


I haven’t written much lately, but many wonderful things have been happening.

1) I got to visit my old school.  It was exactly what the visit should be – I loved seeing everyone, was smiling constantly, and was happy to be back at my new school on Monday. It makes you feel a bit like a movie star, to walk in and have students clamoring around you, saying how much they missed you. It was great to see them, and then to hear them sing an ELA song we learned last year. Their joy and obvious happiness with their year just made my day….I missed those kiddos! After school, I took the student who won the scholarship out for an early dinner, and we got to discuss her future plans. It’s incredible the opportunities she has available now.


2) School has been going really well, minus lots & lots of sick teachers. The one con of our school is that we don’t have substitutes….other teachers have to cover……so that stinks when it’s the morning of, but it’s definitely an incentive to stay ahead of the game.

The goodness started in my meeting with my coach last week - based on her observations, I’m on track, a little above where I need to be. Her big feedback was that my lesson scope was too big (and I definitely agreed), but she said, “but your students kept trying. That’s a testament to your relationships and the systems in your classroom….because the material was tough, a little too much, but they hung in there.”

AKA, I need to improve with planning, but at least the students are invested :)

Yesterday, we introduced book of choice unit. In meeting with my coach, she said that I had the logistics, but where was the investment? So invest I did, through pictures, teacher testimonials, and by the end of the period, students were enthusiastically seeking out books & sharing ideas. I shared with them the 20 HOTTEST books right now, and the only sad thing was that after 2 periods, the library was depleted, and we had to seek alternatives. My favorite happenings were 1) students trying to “hide” books in all the nooks & crannies so that they could find them after school (when classroom checkout began), and 2) students clamoring for the “restricted books.” Those would be books requiring parental consent because they contained mature material. I cracked up today when a student didn’t have his homework completed….but he had the note from his mom so he could check out the book. When I say mature, they deal with heavy topics, or in some cases mildly sexual topics, which truly, our students see all the time on TV, but I still wanted parents to be aware.


Yesterday, I found out that thanks to a random donor, my classroom project to get a FANTASTIC assortment of books that will appeal to low readers, high readers, boys, and girls, and their Latino backgrounds, was fully funded. I am beyond excited to get those books.

Then, today during lunch, the office aide walked in with 4 huge boxes. I was momentarily confused, as I thought there was no way the Donors Choose could come that quickly. Come to find out, I had entered a contest a few weeks ago by writing a comment on a blog, and ended up winning a free classroom set of books! Turns out, these books are perfect 7th grade level, adventure, and EXACTLY what I need to hook my students. The BEST part is – they’re autographed to my school and hard cover! I pulled out a few during my gamers club, and the kids went CRAZY! I really think part of it was just the novelty of a book that was nice, new, autographed, and for them. Any student who is lacking a book tmrw….I plan to entice with this one.

Overall, a book craze is slowly but surely sweeping 7th grade, and I hope that the momentum has only begun!


To conclude, because too much joy can be obnoxious, we had our Induction Ceremony for NJHS members tonight. It was perfect. The students were excited and professional, the candle lighting went off without a hitch, and both parents & students were all smiles. I was basically skipping out of the parking lot.


Some days it’s easy to get bogged down in the fatigue. But weeks like this…..they provide the fuel that keeps us moving towards the vision of empowering our students to change the world around them.

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    Rio Grande Valley
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