From the MOV to Milwaukee

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 29 2013

The Winter Blues

It was so nice to go on a field trip today.

During the school week, its a rarity to see the sun.  I arrive at school before the sun comes up, and don’t make it out until the sun goes down.  So, taking two campus tours today was just lovely.  Seeing the sun this afternoon was amazing.

And, as I was recruited to join 3 different student organizations at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (and contemplated the fact that many of the students recruiting me were at least my age), I realized how different my life is now.  Not being a full time student (well, I’m a full-time student still technically, but my own school work never makes it off the back burner), donning professional clothing and drinking my coffee at 5:30 AM, and being seen as the “teacher” in parent-teacher conferences has given my life a fundamentally different focus.  I wake up early on weekends.  Instead of procrastinating, I just plow through work–because not even my worst 19 credit hour, waitress working, track coaching semesters can lay a finger on my life now.

Okay, well I still procrastinate.

Anyways, the winter time can be a tough season for a first year teacher.  The school year is reaching its halfway point, and even though time has FLOWN, the allure of the end of June is still far, far away.  Even the most wonderful of my students can grate my nerves, and its not because I don’t love them.  We’ve just spent lots of time together.  Graduate school classes are back in FULL swing, and while our professors are aware that we’re struggling new teachers with bigger worries than their assignments, it still doesn’t mean we don’t have to do them…and do them well.  By this time of the year, I’ve learned that its really easy to be a bad teacher.  Show up, don’t implement a management system, and try to work through a couple of handouts.  On the flip side, its almost impossible to be a good teacher, especially when you’re new.  So I’m spending time tweaking lessons, finding supplies to put my discovery lesson ideas into action, and fine-tuning the feedback I give students.  It takes hours to grade a short answer/essay exam well.  On Sunday, I spent 6 hours at Alterra (a fine coffee shop) and over an hour was spent creating a power point for a game that will only last about thirty minutes!  Oh, the humanity!!

All this aside, there are some sneaky golden rays of sunshine.  While I walked around college campuses today daydreaming about trucking from the Sigma Kappa house to Rickey one more time for a bad joke at the start of Abstract Algebra, my students learned that they get to pick their own classes in college, choose who to live with, and that curfew doesn’t exist in the strange world of residence halls.  I guess I’ll try my darndest to make sure they get to have the memories and happiness that come with attaining a college degree. Besides, I keep watching that “Pep Talk” video from Kid President.  My half hour respite on Thursday nights will come back as there is a new Big Bang Theorey episode…and Doctor Who has announced its spring return!  There are some things to look forward to.  And maybe, just maybe, next year I won’t be all by myself in Milwaukee.  [Fingers crossed]

 

2 Responses

  1. Alyssa McGrath

    The bright side is that next year (and every year after that) you won’t have to start from scratch. That 30 minute game on PowerPoint can be re-used and you will know which techniques worked better than others.
    The fact that you care whether or not your students learn anything shows how great of a teacher you are already. You may not have perfected lesson plans, but you have perfected what it means to be passionate. I wish I had been lucky enough to have teachers like you all throughout middle and high school.

    • ekv001

      Thanks, darling! I appreciate your support. Its definitely tough going, but I know from last year’s data that my students are performing better than last year’s sophomores. On the other hand, though, I think about my own high school experience and know that my teachers were much better prepared and experienced and it frustrates me that because my students live in the city, they don’t get access to as many good veteran teachers.

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Region
Milwaukee
Grade
Middle School
Subject
Math

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