Sunday, June 26, 2011

Week 1 of TFA: Setting High Expectations

Last week was my first week of TFA Institute. Institute is the five week TFA training program. It is also known as teacher boot-camp, which I have found to be the most accurate description. Institute as been A LOT so far and I know it will only get more intense and crazy this week.

We've gotten training on everything from lesson plans to management plans to investment plans to diversity to reading aloud. Starting at 7:30am and not ending until 4:30pm has been MUCH. But I can honestly say I've learned a lot. Institute has forced me to think about things that I would not have considered had I not gone through this intensive training.

The thing that they have really pushed is how every single thing we do has to be about the kids. We are not here to boost resumes or take two years off, and we're definitely not here for the salaries (saying teachers are underpaid is the understatement of the century, btw). We are here to serve children that desperately need motivated, qualified, sincere teachers. They are the focus of everything we will do during these five weeks of training and over the next two years in our placement schools.

TFA puts a lot of emphasis on setting really high goals for our kids and challenging them. Now, I must admit that I was a little worried about setting goals that were far too high and setting my kids up for failure. I mean, I know the poem great expectations and whatnot but trying to get a kid from a kindergarten to a fourth grade reading level in one year seemed crazy. But, today in church, the pastor said something that really resonated with me in terms of my TFA journey. He said, "Potential does not manifest without a demand." That one little sentence made everything fit. My kids have unlimited potential. They can do absolutely anything. As their teacher, it is up to me to allow that potential to manifest by challenging them and demanding the best.

So, that's exactly what I plan to do and I charge my fellow TFA corps members and all teachers to do the same. Believe in your students. Set the highest goals imaginable and watch your students accomplish them.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sometimes You Have To Let Go

I need to start this post off with a confession. I know very little about relationships with children involved. I do not have a child. I am clearly on the outside looking in.  With that being said.....

I hate to see my family and friends in relationships that are clearly dysfunctional- constant arguments, physical altercations, verbal abuse. I especially hate it when the children of these couples have to witness the dysfunction. The most common reasons I hear for continuing these relationships are "We gotta stay together for the baby." or "My baby needs to grow up with both parents."
In my opinion, these are just excuses. Yes, it's true that children who grow up with relationships with both parents do better in life. BUT the two parents don't have to be in a relationship with each other for the child to have a relationship with each parent. Putting the child first means doing what is in his or her best interest. Sometimes, that means ending an unhealthy relationship with the other parent, no matter how much security you feel that relationship gives you.
There have been so many studies done on how witnessing domestic violence (both verbal and physical) effects a child. You may think your child is too young to understand what is happening but I can tell you from personal experience that that's not true. Children, even very young ones, who witness domestic violence may (among other things):
- act out and become very aggressive (ex: hitting, kicking, biting)
- excessively seek attention
- have nightmares
- exhibit out-of-control behaviors
- have poor anger management or problem solving skills
- bully others
- participate in more high risk play (ex: jumping off high things)

Now, if you have other reasons for being in the relationship, be honest with yourself. If you're afraid that you won't be able to find anyone else, say that. If you think that people will judge you or look down on you for being a single parent, say that. If you don't want the other parent to end up with somebody else, say that. If people don't approve of your relationship and you're afraid to prove them right, say that. If you're afraid of being alone, that is something you need to admit to yourself and work on. But do not use your child as an excuse for staying in an unhealthy relationship because witnessing domestic violence is much worse than having parents that are separated. You need to love yourself and your child enough to remove yourself from that situation. All three of you will be much better off in the end.

I know people will have a lot to say about this post and I welcome the feedback. If I'm wrong, let me know. As I said at the beginning, I am on the outside looking in.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stop Gawking At Me!

So, today I went to dinner in the JE Dining Hall with Lusdy and Adrea. AS SOON AS I walked in to get my food, 3 (yes, 3) dining hall workers came out from the back, stood by the door and just stared at me. This happens every single time I go into the JE dining hall (and in Commons) and it's getting more annoying by the day.
People tell me to ignore them and, trust me, I try. I've done that for the past three and a half years and I'm getting tired of it. What makes you think it's okay to walk out in a group of 3 and stare at me? Can I live? Can I eat? The least you could do is come out one-at-a-time and try to be discreet about it. Or how about saying hello or something? But no. You just want to GAWK at me and talk amongst yourselves. Can I have my face back please? I do not come to my dining hall just so you can look at me.
So, my advice to the dining hall workers: Stop gawking at me! Grow up! Get a hobby! Before you end up looking for a new job!
Keepin' it 100.
Timeica E