Danya in Dallas

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 20 2012

Institute, Day 9-10: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Yesterday was rough! I woke up in a horrible, horrible mood, and so did most of the people at Institute. This is the part of Institute that I had always been told about but never believed would happen to me or those around me. I’m used to surviving stereotypical predictions like “where fun comes to die” and all, but nah – people were as sleep-deprived, edgy, and frustrated as I had been told they would be, including myself. There is a certain kind of dry “trenches” humor that comes out of all of this though, which is my favorite humor of all time (in college it was known as “A-Level humor”) and I find that people with whom you share this type of humor and these types of moments tend to become very good, reliable friends who can help each other make it through tough times. If I’ve learned anything outside the classroom this week is that at Institute, corps members have a huge influence on how each others’ days go, and can either really help each other out or tear each other down. I’ve been really lucky to have a great collaborative here at Dowling, led by our great CMA Will Cullen, and filled with very bright and sympathetic colleagues always willing to joke around during a frustrating moment, so that’s been great. Yesterday, someone from Dallas-Fort Worth called me to make sure things are okay, and I was honest and told her how nervous I am about moving to Dallas, and she gave me a nice little pep talk that gives me a little more confidence, even though I am still not completely reconciled to the fact. My friend Doni gave me some very good and reassuring advice a few days ago – that this will all get much less stressful once I’m actually living my life instead of planning it!

Yesterday went better as far as teaching – my supervisors commented that I had much better control of the classroom, especially because I bothered to explain the rules this time around! Two of my students made me very proud by drawing alongside their notes to help organize their thoughts. I remember that teachers used to get mad at me for doing this until I took Alison Bechdel and Hilary Chute’s class on comics this past quarter, so I made sure to put their work up on the wall to encourage these budding doodlers to keep working on the relationship between images and learning!
I haven’t taught my third lesson of the week yet, but this time around I will work on improving the way I explain things to my kids – although I am not as bad at bringing concepts down to kid-friendly terms and vocabulary as I thought I would be at the beginning of institute, I’m still struggling to adapt to a seventh-grade vocabulary. This has been a huge challenge for me ever since I started working with kids through Splash! in Chicago, but in my lesson plan I tried to be conscious about making sure I don’t use words that my students aren’t going to understand.
Also I think I’m getting a Texas accent, and I don’t know what to do about it.

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Crescat scientia; vita excolatur!

Dallas-Fort Worth
Elementary School
Elementary Education

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