Today is the last day of institute! It feels so strange, I feel like we just taught our first lesson. There are so many mixed emotions—happiness, anxiety, excitement, sadness…
So institute is challenging. But it HAS to be so that you will be ready for teaching in your region. You can’t know what you want your classroom to be like until you see what you DON’T want (based on your institute experience). Also, living in a dorm–I’m over it. We had water problems and the food was pretty bad. So yeah, happiness about being done with institute. But sadness too–I wish I had more time with my kids. I wish I had gotten to know them better and had been able to do a better job for them.
I’m also really sad about leaving the CMs I got close to here at my school site. You bond so much with the other teachers, but most of them are from different regions. Luckily a lot of the people I got close to at school are in the Houston corps, so I’m sure we’ll be able to visit each other for a long weekend or something.
Sadness also for the students I failed. Every outcome that happens in your classroom IS because of you. So it was extremely rewarding to see so many students improve by 20, 30, 40, and more points…But it is so difficult to know you failed the students who did not improve or who actually did worse on the test.
I feel both anxiety and excitement about going back to the valley. Anxiety because I know I have so much to improve on. And knowing how massively, hugely, ridiculously important it is to have strong expectations, procedures, rules, and investment in place from day one and then making sure to continuously maintain those high expectations and systems. Oh and this thing about still not being placed…yeah…definitely anxious about that. I’m going to the valley for four days and then going back to Maine for two weeks, so I don’t think I’ll truly start freaking out until the second week of being home if I’m still not placed. Whether I’m placed or not at the end of my two week break, I have to go back to the valley and then crash at another CM’s place until I do get placed (and then find a place to live…and hopefully a roommate or two…ahh don’t want to think about it!)
Excitement too, for sure–I was only in the valley for a week but it was amazing. It’s so beautiful and the culture is just so amazing. There is a lot of fun, interesting things to do and I am excited to find out where I will be living for the next two years. Even though I will miss my non-RGV CM friends, I am looking forward to spending more time with other RGV CMs again. We got close during induction, but then at institute you don’t see a lot of people in your corps unless you work at the same school or you live with/next to them in the dorm.
Last night we had closing ceremonies and it was nice to celebrate what we’ve been through and what we’ve done. It can be easy at institute to constantly beat yourself up, stress out, and charge ahead to what you need to do next. It’s important to remember why we are doing this and that we have had successes. We spend a lot of time reflecting on what we need to work on, and my kids really are always on my mind because THEY are the reason I need to be better, not so that I can be “the best” or fit the ideal TFA model. I need to improve so that they will achieve more.
As a teacher you have so many powerful experiences every day with your kids. In one moment you are learning about how one of your 13 year olds has been shot at and jumped, and the next moment a student is telling you that they like your class because they know that you care about them. And I do care about them, even the ones that push my buttons and the ones who disrespect and defy me. Because all of those actions are a direct result of the problems in education that we need to fix, that I WILL push back against until they believe they can achieve and that they will achieve.
I could write so much more about this experience and I’m sure that I will come back to these five weeks and reflect on it more. But at the end of the day, this is the bottom line: There IS an achievement gap and it CAN be fixed. It HAS to be closed, and one day…it will be.