Northerner In Nashville

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 16 2011

I’ve been off dreaming

I’m going to just put it out there. They say that the end of September through to November is the hardest stretch for teachers. I thought it was hard my first year but I’m thinking I may trade that for these past weeks. Last year, I had enormous student turnover and instability. That was limited in many ways to just my classroom. This year, that sense of instability has seeped out into the building as a whole. I don’t know the names of all the teachers in my building, in particular those who’ve been hired to replace those who have already quit. We have substitutes in on a regular basis and some days the substitutes just don’t show up.

Morale is incredibly low. If it weren’t for dedication to the students, the ones that desperately want and need to be there, I think there would be a mass exodus of teachers from my school at Christmas. Most days, it feels like nothing’s working and there’s no benefit to being there.

Yesterday, I had a substitute. By all accounts, it was a miserable day in Room 207. As one particular perceptive child put it after our morning meeting, “it sounds like the students took advantage of the substitute” If “taking advantage” means throwing things, refusing to sit down, telling him things that were not true about our routine, then yes, sweetie, that’s exactly what happened.

Whenever you have a substitute, you can never be entirely sure what work will get done and what work will fall by the wayside. Most days, I’m just relieved to come back and hear that no one was sent to the office, no one was suspended, and no one had to have the police called on them (all within the realm of possibility). I left a pretty cool activity for them to do related to our reading of”My Brother Martin” about
Martin Luther King based on his “I have a dream” speech. As we’re in the process of creating an imaginary settlement on the moon, we’re talking about what societies need to be successful and desirable.

Here are the first few dreams that I got from students
-sweet car
-be famous from my realty tv show
-die and be buried looking beautiful
-i have all the lip glos

After reading, I did stop and out my head in my hands. What is this? Is this really the only way I can get them to think? Perhaps they would be better off with someone else in the room.

And then I got to the next chunk.

– I have a dream that my older brother would treat me with respect
– I have dream that my mom would stop yelling at me alot
–I have a dream that the fourth grade would listen to their teachers
–I have a dream that my father would stay on this earth so he could see his kids get older and succeed
–I have a dream that I get old enough to teach my baby sister the right thing
– I have a dream that my mom could find a job
–I have a dream that I become a great young lady
–I have a dream that everyone in this class gets a degree
–I have a dream that I open my own nail salon and become a successful businesswoman
– save money to help old people (ELL, so this is a big idea to get across)

Selfless dreams, aiming high but aiming for possible — that’s why I drag my butt out of bed in the morning and force down that nauseous feeling that I’m failing my students.

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    a 2010 CM’s experiences

    Elementary School
    Elementary Education

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