Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Before the Nyquil knocks me out on the living room floor

I'm halfway through week 2. I smell like I just came out of a crayola factory, I tend to wear more finger paint than make-up, and animal crackers sound like a completely reasonable lunch. But at least I'm not thinking about quitting.

It seems like the idea of quitting is sometimes this big cloud that hangs above us all. The greatest blasphemy. At every TFA meeting, and at the one I had with my own program director, they make sure to let us know that part of the aim of the program is retention. And, on the flipside, it seems like we are constantly hearing stories of older corps members that did quit. Or at least seriously thought about it. Jaren and I had a check-in the other day while doing our morning dance in the kitchen (you iron something, you pour some coffee, you grab the rice pudding for our lunch boxes, you grab the keys... no, you grab the keys... do you have the keys? Ef, we forgot the keys). Simply, we each asked the other if we had had any thoughts about quitting (no). And we reminded each other that we're never letting the other one quit.

The whole quitting thing seems silly, because you would never normally enter a new job and sincerely think about if or when you would have THOSE quitting thoughts. You'd just go for it. But here, quitting seems like the plague. Like some virus that could suddenly attack you. I cannot even fathom quitting, but on the other hand, there is sooooo much about the next few years that seems unknown. When am I going to feel it? When will I get hit by those unending blues that every corps member talks about? The ones that make you cry every day and only get better when you come back from winter break? It seems inevitable, but also completely not me.

It seems so not me because things are so good right now. I have a surprisingly well behaved class. And I see them, every day, getting it. Getting what I taught. When two words sound the same, they rhyme. The author of a story writes the words in the book. The best thing by far: my little attitude+allergies princess often says "I can't" when we start an assignment, like draw what you look like, try drawing your name, etc. Today, everyone traced their names and then had a small blank area to try freehand. I was just passing by her table when I hear a surprised intake of breath and she says, "Hey!" She looks up to see I'm watching her and then points to her paper where she has just drawn her first "s." It may be backwards, and it may be in the middle of her name, but she did it. And she was just as surprised as I was. I can't believe I actually got to see that a-ha moment.

The only downside is I'm sick (again). I foresee this year being one unending cold. And the nyquil is making me drowsy so this is going to be a quick entry.

The good: I've been introducing lessons slowly and still spending large chunks of the day on beginning procedures (why do we have rules, what are the rules, let's stand in a line, let's practice freezing) and it's helping. They respond well to the reinforcement and review, especially during the morning circle time when they are sharing. They are also starting to recognize more what their names look like. Many of them are understanding the title, front cover and back cover of a book. We worked through the Color Parade song today and it went from a total catastrophe to a manageable situation (I had to turn off the cd player, sing the song slowly myself, remind a few students what color they were holding, and we repeated like there was nothing more important than colors. In a parade.)

The bad: the kids seem to be fairly well-behaved, but I'm afraid that as they become more comfortable with the classroom and school, it will slip. I'm not sure if I'm enforcing as much as I should be. I also need to be doing the positive reinforcement more. I always forget to reward the most well-behaved ones with a move up to the "blue" on our 5-color behavior chart. Things seem much less organized than I planned: the centers time is a mess, with how they pick a center and how I track their learning during centers time. I am not as far as I need to be with doing diagnostic testing. I need to develop a better morning routine for coming into the class, pulling out their folder and putting their backpack away. Also, we are wasting time during snack time. Math often gets cut short and we haven't moved into small groups yet (partly because of diagnostics).

The best: Field trip on Friday to Fort McHenry! I'm possibly more excited than the kids. And not just because my lesson plans for Friday were cut in half, but because this is actually historically significant and cool. This is why I love Maryland. All of these things and places that matter and have a history. We all know I love history.

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