Man, if every month was like the month of May, I would be a teacher forever.
No, seriously. This month is the best month I’ve had so far as a corps member. I like to think that this is more than just situational- that I personally have something to do with it. First, let’s examine the situational reasons why May rocks:
1. The CST is OVER! No more stressing, test-prepping, and worrying. Now, my teaching is just about my students and what they still need to learn.
2. The students are older, more mature, and more self-sufficient. At the beginning of second grade, it feels like the kids can’t do anything. Now, they work together independently for (gasp!) 30 to 45 minutes at a time!
3. 4 weeks of school left. No explanation needed.
Now, certainly, these situational things are great. Anybody can understand why you would feel better during the last weeks of school.
BUT last year at this time was not such a piece of cake. What has made this year different?
1. During the year, I actually taught my students things in a way they could master them. Now I don’t have to spend the last weeks of school killing myself to meet the Big Goal. (Certainly some re-teach is necessary, but my students have already met the goal this year. Last year we were at about a 71% going into the last month of school, whereas this year we’re at an 82%.)
2. MY CLASSROOM IS ACTUALLY ORGANIZED! I cannot emphasize enough how awesome this is! I have been reading The Cornerstone and it has completely revolutionized my mindset and approach to my classroom. I can actually see my desk! Like, all the time, not after I’ve spent 3 hours cleaning it off on a Friday night. (Side note: if you have papers all over your desk, frequently lose important things, and don’t know where things are, you need to read this book. Just do it.)
3. In that same vein, I have been reading a lot of professional development type books and thinking a lot about myself as a professional. I started with What Great Teachers Do Differently and it, too, has changed my mindset and approach to my job. I go to work feeling positive and excited to be there. It certainly makes the job better.
My only regret about my time in Teach for America is that I was unable to approach every day like I am now. I have grown so much. I doubt that if I were to meet my pre-TFA self I would even know what to say to her. That former person just didn’t have the energy to be the person I am now. Certainly there is no point in beating myself up about this; I could not have done any more than I did.
So, in looking forward, I know I can better impact my students next year based on what I have learned in the two previous years. In addition, I want to continue building Teach for America’s mission. That’s why I’ve applied to be a Collaboration Team Leader with the Bay Area staff next year. This person leads a small group of corps members once a month to help them develop as professionals. This job sounds awesome to me- I hope I can have this opportunity! I won’t know for a few weeks whether this is in the cards for me. Even if it’s not, I am making it a personal goal of mine to learn as much as I can and lead as much as I can in the next few years. I really feel like this is what I’m meant to do- and as we used to say in college, go big or go home!