Well, dear, hypothetical readers, it’s been a while.
About a week before the end of the Phoenix institute, I got a package from my school with two books and a packet called Summer 2012 Pre-Institute Work.
In the middle of institute, the very LAST thing you want to hear from anyone is that you’re going to be going to another institute. There are obvious differences: in Phoenix I was away from home and not in my own bed and eating dorm food and we were teaching and trying to learn how to teach at the same time. This institute is four intensive weeks of training before we get students so that we can plan curriculum and norm behavioral consequences so that we’re all on the same page as a school team. Obviously. I knew that.
But I was NOT okay with the idea of another institute.
One of the books in the package was Teach Like A Champion, which I’ve already read – my dad gave it to me years ago when I expressed interest in being a teacher – and one was Understanding the Framework of Poverty. I had to skim Lemov, which was fine and useful, and I have some issues with the Framework book that I can talk about later. At length. I have feelings. There was also a school manual with an overview of curriculum and school culture and core values and all that good stuff, as well as a login for a youtube account and some reflection questions about videos.
The main difference between this institute and Phoenix institute is how concrete everything feels here. I’m learning from the staff at my school about my school’s culture and policies, and I’m creating a unit plan for the first six weeks of school in my classroom. I’m planning the grammar curriculum for all the kindergarten classes, and I’m getting lesson plans from the teachers planning the other content areas. My school has two campuses, and the teacher planning grammar at the other school is also a TFAer. We’re going to plan together and I’m also going to collaborate with the teacher planning the writing curriculum. So far everything seems cohesive and really efficient.
Basically, I’m in a really good place right now. I feel incredibly supported by my school – their new teacher training (for TFAers and first-year teachers from traditional certification programs) is four years long and the mentor teachers aren’t teaching in classrooms. Their sole job is to support us.
I like my MTLD and the other kindergarten teachers at my school, and I’ve met everyone in my grade level team but my co-teacher. She didn’t go to our team building camp yesterday because she’s pregnant. She’s due in November, and I’ll have a sub working in my classroom with me when she’s gone on maternity leave. I’m… really interested to see how that’s going to play out, and I’ll definitely be writing about it in the fall. I’m trying really hard not to worry about it and just trust the administration at this point.
I feel like my life is really transient at this point, and I’ve lived in Northeast Ohio for a long time but I haven’t officially moved here until now. August 1 is sort of my looming deadline right now: I’m trying to buy a new car and my old car’s title expires at the end of July, my new insurance takes hold in August, and I technically have jury duty in Massachusetts on August 1 so I need to switch my residency and apply for a new drivers’ license, which requires taking a written test.
Spending time with people is really hard when you try to go to bed every night at 10pm. It’s like living in a different time zone, and I’m adapting.
This post has ended up longer than I thought it would be.
I went on an orchestra tour of Europe when I was in high school. One day I was in the middle of a 12-hour rehearsal and my conductor told the group, who was having a lot of trouble keeping it together, that “it’s easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.” Basically, pretend you’re in a good mood and you will be. I seem to have acted myself into being a reflective person, and I’m having a mostly positive experience with TFA so far. Weird.