Sunday, December 16, 2012

Word of the Day: Reflection

This post is all about reflections.  No, not the kind of reflections that Christina Aguilera sings about in Mulan.  The Teach for America buzzword kind of reflection.  During Institute (TFA's summer training program,) we were constantly told to "reflect."  Reflect on your students scores.  Reflect on your lesson.  Reflect on Leslie's question.  Reflect on why your students are getting high in the bathroom during your lesson (true story!)  One day I was even told to, "reflect on your reflections."  That's the point where my lack of sleep and complete exhaustion set in and I lost it.  You get the point, lots of reflection.

I've been horrible about posting for the last 6 months.  Worse than I've ever been!  I'm hoping that will change next semester because one thing I love is writing and another thing I love is my job.  Somedays that's not true and that wasn't true for the first two months of school.  Institute was great and I was known as the "lesson planning queen," but once I got to T-Town and started teaching it was completely different.  I was reflecting on some reflections in my journal the other day and read an entry that mentioned the fact I had made it through the entire day without crying once.  That was about two and a half weeks into the school year.  It got worse after I went home for Brother's wedding and spent the next week sobbing about how much I hated my job.  I'll admit, I was even hoping for a minor accident that would require me to leave the school and go back to Utah (nothing too bad, just bad enough.)  My other half in New Orleans helped me through that rough patch and I managed to finish 1st quarter.

Now I've almost completed 1st semester!  All I have left is three, 3-hour days where the kiddos take finals and I wait for the results.  I can't believe how far I've come or how far my students have come.  I came into TFA thinking I was going to be "truly transformational" (buzzword), but after a few weeks I was hoping for "adequate" (not a buzzword.)  At my turning point where I went from hoping for a car accident to looking forward to tomorrow's lesson I realized that being transformational isn't about everyone scoring above 80% on the CRT.  Being transformational is something different for each individual student.  For R it meant hunting him down during lunch and pulling him away from his girlfriend so he could retake a quiz, working before and after school to bring his grade up from an F to a C in three weeks, and helping in his other classes so he can be eligible for soccer.  For E it meant listening to her talk about the problems at home during my prep and attempting to attend all her vocal performances.

In TFA we talk so much about the data.  How many of your kids have passed the AIMS?  What is their average score?  What does your tracker look like?  The data can be fun; we love looking at the charts on my wall to see which class scores the highest on an exam and who has the highest class average.  In TFA we also talk about building authentic relationships.  After reflecting on the last four and half months the most important part of my job is the relationships I've built.  I love these kids.  They absolutely drive me insane, but I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  I don't think I'm transformational and I'm definitely not close to being "truly transformational," but hopefully I'll get there by the end of my two years with TFA.

Photo from here