Miss Bennett in the Bay

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 04 2007

Sitting in Little Tiny Chairs

Day 2 of Institute is officially finished. That means that I have 33 more days of Institute to go. That seems pretty manageable, don’t you think?

As per usual in TFA, the past 2 days have felt more like 2 weeks. I have already internalized all the crazy TFA acronyms for everything, and I’ll try to be mindful of the fact that most of my readers will have no idea what I’m talking about. Only yesterday we had our welcoming ceremonies, and they were quite inspiring. Wendy Kopp, the founder and CEO of TFA, spoke, in addition to some alumni and our managing director of institute. The first guy said something really great that I wanted to repeat on here, but now I can’t remember what it is.

I’m teaching this summer at Grape Street Elementary school in Watts, CA. Those of you who lived through the 90s will remember Watts of the Rodney King Riots fame. It’s not that bad. Grape is a very cute little school. I’m teaching second grade with my collaborative (collab), which, coincidentally, is also my placement in the fall. I think I am about the only person whose institute teaching aligns with their placement teaching, but whatever. It’s about the skills, not the grade here.

My impressions of Institute thus far are as follows: it’s exhausting, stressful, exhilarating, and inspiring. I’ve had the best moments of my life after college and the worst (ok, well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little.) My thoughts run something like this: Oh my god, I’m a teacher. This is amazing! My second graders are going to be the best second graders ever! Wait, they’re going to be, on average, three grade levels behind? Already? That means they won’t even be reading on a pre-k level! What the hell am I doing here? How will I ever be able to accomplish this? My work is so urgent. Oh my god, I’m a teacher! And on. In short, it’s an emotional roller coaster.

Since I’m at an elementary school, we have all our sessions for the day in elementary classrooms. The chairs in elementary classrooms are not built for college graduate butts. So, I spend the entire day being uncomfortable. Luckily, our classrooms are air conditioned. Unluckily, there are only two settings: on or off. So, you freeze or sweat. It’s a constant battle with the machine but I’m glad to have them nevertheless. It’s really frikin hot in LA in the summer.

Thus far the food has been pretty good. The mashed potatoes they served at dinner tonight made my entire day.

There are many things that I’m sure you all want to know. It’s 11 pm and far, far past my bed time. I need to wake up at 5 am tomorrow, as I do every day, to begin my work. I can’t possibly cover everything in my posts because 1) I don’t have time to write that much and 2) you all would be so, so bored with my daily happenings. Trust me, a LOT happens. So, if there is something you are curious about or whatever, leave a comment. I’m more than happy to talk about it in my next post.

In case you were wondering, I’m already modeling best teacher practices. I’ll let you figure out what that practice is.

I miss everyone terribly and could use some love. Reference the emotional roller coaster I talked about earlier.

2 Responses

  1. Je.rry Bennett

    When you have a minute, try to locate “That Trouble Comin’ Everyday” by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. It is an incredible song about the original Watts riots in the 60s. It will give you some history on the area. As grubby as the Mothers of Invention were, they were all classically trained musicians.
    I can’t believe you’re a teacher either. Especially the way you reacted when we used to suggest teaching as a backup to psychology. I think you’ll be a great one. You’ve inspired me to seriously consider going back to teaching as my third career. I’ll have to wait until I’m financially prepared to teach though.
    Don’t worry, you’ve got lots of love behind you. Be realistic about what you want to accomplish but kick some butt. Get the kids up to grade level in four weeks.

    Dad and Mom

  2. You go, Chris! Every time I read about what you’re doing out there, I swell with pride for what my brothers are accomplishing. You will make a huge difference in their lives, and though some of them probably won’t improve as much as you’d like, some of them will rise above and beyond your expectations. And, like I said before, you’ll make a difference in ALL of their lives for the better.

    Keep up the good work (I know you will ;-) )!

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"All that is gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost." -J. R. R. Tolkien

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