don’t get me wrong, i am not one of the all-stars by any means. i’m not yet one of those corps members leading all my kids to mastery on their assessments every day — or even GETTING to the assessments every day, for that matter. i’m not standing in front of my whole school team to show them one particular teaching skill i totally rock all the time, or even being as fun in the classroom as i am in real life. (that was actually my biggest delta from this past week — my passion and my sense of humor weren’t coming through in front of the kids, and not only hearing that but also SEEING it on the videotape was shocking.)
so yeah. i’m not captain fantastic at teach for america yet. but i AM improving. the cool thing about institute is that you can see at least ONE THING every day that you did better than the day before, even if everything else seemed to go to hell. yesterday it was being fun. (even crazy if you ask I, who’s one of the kids i actually only teach during AIT, who raised his eyebrow and asked me “how many cups of coffee did you have, miss?” while i was leading him and the rest of his group to really understand their thesis statements. sorry if you read that already on facebook. i just think it’s too funny not to share.)
today, the thing i did better was facilitating guided practice. (that’s a fantastic sentence, right? yeah, i do teach english.) tomorrow it will be — it needs to be — TIMING.
but make no mistake, i consider every connection made with a student, every conversation on the way to lunch, every request to take work home and bring it back tomorrow as a small (or substantial) victory. i definitely recognize that i’m reaching all of these kids in SOME way, even if it isn’t in the perfect way that i wish i knew how to do. one kid in particular, G, continues to amaze me with his enthusiasm for learning, which i wish could supersede his intervention-desperate lack of writing skills. the only way to describe his appearance that works for me is to say he looks like a human gourd, in the most adorable way possible. sometimes he wears short-sleeve button-down plaid shirts with pens in his pockets; often he comes to class with a smile on his face, saying “i’m ready to LEARN, miss!” today, however, G really out-hilarious’ed himself. as he walked into the classroom to place his binder on his desk before going to nutrition, he donned a pair of aviator sunglasses and started slowly reaching into his pocket. “i have a violation,” he said, pulling out one of his pirate points. “there’s not enough learning going on here!”
i died laughing, asked him if he had ever heard the phrase “you’re a ham,” explained said phrase, then told him he’s a ham and that i LOVE it. G still gets confused a lot in class. he still struggles to write even basic sentences. he may or may not realize that i still don’t know what exactly his special needs are or how to meet them.
but man, he really enjoys being at school, and he REALLY enjoys the pursuit of learning, whether or not he actually masters the objectives nicole and i try to teach him. every time i talk to him i find myself gently placing my hand on his shoulder, because in that moment all i want him to know is that i care about him and i believe in him and i want to help him. (yeah, being a teacher makes me feel like a mom. sue me!) i wish SO BADLY that kids like G would never have to arrive in a 7th grade classroom still not really being able to write a sentence, let alone an essay. i also wish that i personally had more time with him this summer, or more flexibility to try to catch him up on the absolute basics so that he CAN proceed with more complicated stuff.
things are the way they are, though; this is institute. this is how it works. all i can do is continue loving him — and improving for his sake.