Northerner In Nashville

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 27 2012

Oh hey, remember me?

It’s been awhile, I know. Every now and again I thought about writing, but after slugging through the day, the last things I wanted to do was spend more time in my head thinking about school. Also, I’m trying to follow more of the “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all” motto.

Which explains the 3-month absence.

After Thanksgiving, I got a student moved into my classroom from a teammate. In what was ruled not a case of zero-tolerance, this student (let’s call him Jump) hit his teacher and moving classrooms was an intervention. While I guess it’s encouraging that my principal thought my classroom culture was healthy enough to sustain this new member, I was terrified at the prospect.

In the first week, he got into a fight every single day. In the second week, he ended up being taken to juvenile for conduct. Each day came the critical decision: do I let him sleep and let the other students learn or do I wake him up and try to get him involved in the class culture? Talk about survival mode.

Winter break could not come fast enough. I recharged some of my batteries and felt really inspired by a TFA alum who’d led a session on classroom turnaround at one of our Saturday Sessions. Still, I wasn’t sure what would happen. Initially, it went ok. I worked with one of the counselors to get him some basic supplies. That helped a little, but not enough.

The long and short is that after going almost a week without major incidents, he escalated rapidly during math stations to hit 3 students. When I went to the phone to call for assistance, he began hitting me.

Needless to say, school hasn’t been the same. The weeks immediately following were a blur. I got to school close to when it started and then was leaving right after for physical therapy for several weeks. I don’t know how well my students have gotten any of the gotten in the last few weeks, but we’ve worked our butts off to get our classroom feeling safe. My students haven’t physically threatened anyone in class since, although we’re still working on taking responsibility for verbal aggression.

We’ve got 8 weeks to TCAP and 12 left in the year. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

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    a 2010 CM’s experiences


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