Thursday, May 23, 2013

The End of the Beginning

Here I was, simply sitting in my classroom at an unexpected time of freedom.  The seniors are gone - getting ready to graduate tomorrow night - a great accomplishment in an urban school with 96% poverty rate.  I started looking around my room, starting to think about August and the improvements I want to make for next year.

I'm just now ending my first year teaching.  You've been there - sink or swim.  Looking back on it, the first month or so, I was treading water just trying not to drown.  My students (I say "my", but in reality they're all ours, even if they're mostly forgotten) have had a lot of change in their educational careers.  In fact, my Freshmen have seen 3 superintendents, 4 principals, 2 teacher strikes, and countless different teachers in their experience in our district.  Because of that, at least I think, they are very wary of change.  They tested me; the environment tested me; the community tested me; I tested myself.

I had to re-learn everything.  My methods classes in college were not designed for a 98% minority school - the culture is completely different.  With the Common Core changeover taking place now as well, I had to re-learn alignment and those standards I had memorized before I graduated are now moot.

Because of this, I have spent more time on the internet and reading informational books this year than I think I did in almost all of college (granted, as an English major, I stuck to mostly novels).  In all the hours, there are countless lessons and unit ideas on traditional texts, as well as a smattering of non-traditional ideas.  There are thousands of ideas on Pinterest for elementary teachers.  There are hundreds of blogs for lessons, literacy stations, and all those wonderful activities that seem to stop once a student hits double digits.  But, there are almost no ideas on management, urban culture, and methods of closing the achievement gap.

So this has become my goal.  I want to use this as an outlet for ideas, resources, and experiences.

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