I think that I can speak for the majority of my friends and colleagues here in Atlanta when I say that I am utterly exhausted. This first week of summer institute has been tremendous but very challenging. Let me explain...
Basically, the first week of summer institute is devoted to learning the basics of becoming a highly effective teacher with other brilliant nuggets of teacher knowledge thrown in along the way. A normal day for me started with waking up at 5 a.m. and being to breakfast by about 5:45. I would then eat some breakfast and relax with some friends as we waited for our buses to arrive to take us to our summer school locations.
Since Teach For America teachers were not actually teaching this week we did a lot of sitting around and listening to lectures about how to be an effective teacher. This past week I have learned about effective teaching methods, classroom management, student investment, lesson planning, objectives, key points, diversity, and hundreds of other things I am forgetting right now.
I'll be honest, this week, especially Monday was quite slow. When you're sitting around in a classroom all day (from 7-4:30) the day tends to go very slowly; however, as the week picked up the responsibility picked up as well. By the end of the week, my Teach For America friends and I have been relentlessly working on lesson plans, classroom posters, and brainstorming about effective ways to close the achievement gap here in Atlanta. It is now Saturday and I am only a few days away from meeting all of my students and teaching them what they need to know this summer. Let me give you a rundown of my class...
I am teaching a 5th grade class and their subject is all day reading. That's right...all reading...all the time. In Atlanta, children need to pass a standardized test called the CRCT to move on to the next grade level. The fifth grade students I have all did not pass the CRCT the first time and need to improve their reading fluency, proficiency, and comprehension to move on to middle school. There are only 12 students in my class and they appear to be well behaved. I think they're eager to take this CRCT test again and hopefully move on to a new school and a new life awaiting them in middle school.
I have my lesson plans done for Monday and will rehearse what I need to do on Sunday. I'm eager to step into a classroom for the first time and hopefully make a difference. This whole things is hard. Teaching is not going to be easy, heck, it already isn't easy. Although things are not easy I am learning a lot. Everything Teach For America is teaching us is fantastic knowledge that I can implement immediately into my professional life. Like I said, I'm eager to step into a classroom but I know I have a lot more left to learn.
As I am 1/5 of the way done with summer instiute I know that the remaining 4/5 will fly by. I'll keep y'all updated as I learn more about myself, my class, and my life as a teacher.