Getting Lost in Translation

Secured Waste

Is it okay if I laugh at my own jokes? My title really entertains me. I apologize that once again I have neglected my avid readers. Luckily, I have good news for this edition of “Adventures in Texas Teaching”.

The first 6 weeks is over! That means Unit 1, the geography of Texas, has finally passed. Unlike math or science, social studies gets to start over every six weeks with a different topic. We’ve now moved onto…drum roll please…EARLY TEXAS SETTLERS! Last week was Native American tribes of Texas. I shocked my students on Thursday by dressing up as a Native American, complete with a Walmart purchased black wig. Yes, I have become THAT teacher.

But the good news…
I had my students write down one thing they liked about the class and one thing they would like to change. Nearly 70% of my students said they enjoyed the class because “Ms. C is cool” and they think the material is interesting. That was a huge ego boost I wil admit (though that isn’t why I do it, but it helps when they don’t hate your guts).

TFA has this phrase, “that is why I Teach For America” that one says after explaining an event that made them remember why teaching is so great. Well, I had my first “That is why I Teach For America” moment on Thursday. Report card grades were due Friday, and I had to fail several students. At Ringgold, if an athlete fails one subject, they cannot play. I had to fail five athletes. I pulled two of the girl volleyball players outside to break the news to them. They didn’t cry, they didn’t get angry and when they went back into class, they were still participating and talking to me. Later, one of my fellow teachers heard the girls talking out in the hallway about me. One of the girls said she had jus heard she can’t play anymore and said, “You know, whatever”. Well, the other girl replied, “Yeah, but at least Ms. C cares about us.”

That is why, I Teach For America.

Image Credit: Sam Judson via Flickr

But I thought Texas was flat?

This week…the Coastal Plains of Texas. For those of you Yankees, it is the region of Texas near the Gulf of Mexico. Did you know that it is the perfect place for farming as a result of its flat landscape and proximity to a water source? Yet, bet you didn’t and neither do my kids. After two days of teaching about transportation and comparing how things have changed since petroleum, they still seem to be stuck somewhere in their hormones. Today was the first day I snapped. I yelled at a class today for being rude, and then gave an impromptu quiz. I didn’t demean them, but those thoughts were definately running through my head and let me tell you, it is friggin hard to stay composed when you are relishing all the ways you could injure your bad student in your imagination.

How can this be an uphill battle? I thought Texas was flat?

My Own Reality TV show

retro tv set

If I were a reality television show, this week would have been the opening episode. When I titled this blog, “Adventures in Texas Teaching”, I wasn’t prepared for that title to actually become this sort of reality.

To prompt this entry, I will first state a disclaimer. This entry will not be totally in regards to teaching. However, what happens outside the classroom can impact what occurs in the classroom. Second reason for the disclaimer—if you know my true identity, do not be alarmed by what I am about to tell you.

It all began on Sunday night. After a somewhat drama filled weekend, the Rio House of TFA had come to a temporary calmness. Each of us were in various rooms of the house, minding our own business. Suddenly, Teacher A hears a knock at the bedroom window. Teacher A goes to Teacher B, who has also just heard a rap on their bedroom window. As they are speaking, I am standing in the kitchen attempting to label the silverware in Spanish (concentrating hard on whether a “tenedor” is a fork or knife). I hear a rap on the kitchen window and refuse to look up, afraid I will fall prey to what may very well be, the first TFA horror movie. All of us gather in the common room, wondering who or what could be playing this not so funny joke on us. Five minutes later, we are crawling on the floor.

Why?

Gun shots.

Our neighborhood has quickly deteriorated into a “Bad Boys” movie, with gang shoot-outs, shady white vans, stabbings and robberies. Needless to say, the Rio House of TFA will soon be no more. Teacher B and I have decided to pack our things as quickly as humanly possible and move to an apartment. When our landlord said he would install an alarm to try and keep us there, my first question was, “Does this alarm come with a bullet proof force field? Because my stuff isn’t what I’m really worried about.”

As for the reality TV, all this happened the week after my students were forced through 15 hours of testing spread out over 3 days. Hmmm, maybe I should do a study about the connection between drop out rates and obscene amounts of testing.

Image Credit: Roadsidepictures via Flickr