Miss Bennett in the Bay

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 17 2007

Code Blue… Followed by TFA Day

Today we had a code blue at school. Code blue means that the school goes on lockdown. There is some kind of nasty stuff happening in the surrounding neighborhood. So, wherever you are on campus, you go inside the nearest door, with whichever kids happen to be near you at the time, and shut the door behind you. You do not leave until they give the all clear.

I happened to be on my differentiated time, so I was in the corps member workroom adjacent to the cafeteria. There were no other corps members in there with me at that time, but I did get to chill with the cafeteria ladies.

We could hear the helicopter flying very low outside the window. The principal explained to us before that we will hear helicopters all the time, but when they get close enough the police will call the school and tell us to go on code blue. Evidently the kids don’t get freaked out about this, even though they all know what it means, but the adults start freaking out.

From where I was sitting in the corps member workroom, I could see the helicopter circling, not very far away. Police cars drove by every few minutes. The main gates of the school were all closed and locked, and I was behind windows with bars and a locked door.

Besides, I had the cafeteria ladies to save me.

The Code Blue began 15 minutes before the end of school. We were instructed not to dismiss our kids at noon as a result. However, as I think I’ve mentioned before, half of our kids are bussed from another school and at 12:30 must be on the bus to go back to their school. So, at 12:05, the announcement came over the PA system:

“Teachers, even though we have activity in our area, in the interest of time, we are modifying our code blue. So, you may notice activity in the area, but please line your kids up and bring them to lunch.”

“Activity”- just another euphamism that I need to get accustomed to.

I was freaking out. It was terrifying. I was so glad that I was not lead teaching at that moment because I don’t know what I would have done. Ms. Lewis would have had to take over.

Speaking of my FA, Ms. Lewis yelled at me today because I did not give the kids enough time to draft their letters. This is not my fault. The writing block only gets 37 minutes instead of the normal 40 to begin with, and then with transition time added in there plus kids not paying attention… you really only get 35 minutes, on a good day. I’ll tell you right now, 35 minutes is not enough time for second graders to do anything. They’d need 35 minutes for the entire work time, not the entire lesson. If I have to do an opening, intro to new material, and guided practice before the independent practice, like TFA tells me to, then the kids get a maximum of 20 minutes to work, even if I bust my butt to get through the other parts of the lesson. In addition to the timing issues, the Institute Student Achievement Toolkit gives me my objectives for each day. Even if my kids do not master my objectives, I am supposed to bulldoze through them by the end of the summer. So, my objectives are telling me that my kids should be done writing their letters by today, even if that is not feasible.

My conversation with Ms. Lewis went something like this:
Ms. L: They did not have enough time to finish their letters.
Me: My hope was that between yesterday and today they could finish.
Ms. L: They can’t copy their letters in that much time. You didn’t give them enough time.
Me: It is very difficult to complete these lessons in only 40 minutes….
Ms. L: I understand that they are giving you a calendar for the summer. But real teaching does not work like that. You need to tell them to build more drafting time into the lessons. It’s your responsibility to make sure they finish.
Me: Ok, I’ll relay that message.

And I will. But I seriously doubt that they will listen.

After lunch, we had our differentiated CMA sessions. We couldn’t get into our normal classroom, so we went into somebody else’s classroom for it instead. They started teaching us about SURFing… Silent Uninterrupted Reading Freedom. Then, our school director came in and apologized for interrupting us. She said that at Figueroa Elementary they had a water mane break and the CMs over there were coming to Grape, in like five minutes. She had a giant piece of paper and she explained that she had made a map for them… and she opened it up to reveal TFA Day! Totally Free Afternoon! We got back on the bus and came back to CSULB. They were giving free chair massages, which was amazing, and later they are having a bbq. I also took a nap. It was the greatest afternoon of my life.

I am officially 50% done with institute. Everything after this is less than what I have already experienced. I know that I can survive.

2 Responses

  1. 06 bay'er

    Keep up the good work! I know institute can be frustrating, ruthless, and at times feel impossible but before you know it you will be finished and ready to make the move up here! I know that all of the 06′s are very excited to have you all on board and we can’t wait to have you all back up here with us. You CAN survive…I promise!

  2. chrisb

    Thanks! I’m feeling better after the afternoon off. I am so excited to get back to the Bay and begin working!

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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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