Teachin' For America

Thoughts and otherwise on one particular Teach for America experience.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Insti-fucking-tute

Gracious. I don't know where to begin describing this ridiculous trip I've been referring to lately as "Institute." I've obviously been kept very busy, as evidenced by my utter lack of posts to thishere blog. But I think I'm going to implement a program wherein I make a post, however brief, each day. This experience is too memorable to fail to record it. Shall I describe said memorable experience?
I average 2-4 hours of sleep per night. I get ecstatic when I lay down to bed with more than that amount of time left before my obnoxious, beeping alarm goes off at 5:15 AM. I'm well aware of the fact that this pattern can't possibly be healthy and that I should really get to bed earlier. However, the extraordinary demands on my time here really don't allow that to happen. I go to bed when I'm done with my work, which includes writing lesson plans and preparing materials to be used in the previously planned lessons. Most lesson plans get written twice: once in rough draft form 3-4 days before they're to be delivered, another in final draft form to be handed in the morning of the lesson. Because of the difficult nature of planning a course of study for special education students- especially when it must mesh with the lessons of three other people, as our plans must do in the collaborative system we have here at institute- the rough drafts are typically complete and utter rewrites. It has been difficult to know what will be an appropriate lesson prior to the night before it is to be delivered. So I've been spending a lot of time writing plans. Executing them is a whole other matter and a whole other set of hours in the day I don't truly have.
I am teaching a 4-6 grade SpEd class at Baldwin Hills Elementary. I am doing so along with three other corps members, two who will be in Las Vegas this fall and one who will be in Los Angeles. They are good people and hard workers, and we have been doing a fine job of getting along despite what everyone knows is a potentially volatile situation where four leaders are forced to perform collaboratively. We all have our own ideas, some of which we push for, some of which we compromise and save for our own rooms in the fall. Aside from the obvious tasks of getting our work done and getting our kids educated, our "colab" has been able to unite around a mutually wary relationship with our faculty advisor, a Baldwin Hills teacher known as Ms. "Talley." An old-school, military-style educator, Ms. Talley is the type of teacher we all agree we will not be. While she seems to get results, we all wonder at what cost given her habits of yelling, demeaning students, and generally being a mean teacher. Her students are frightened of her and obviously do not enjoy the time they spend in her class. We in colab #3 all know that we will have to work in the fall to assure that we do not have classrooms like that.
There is so much more I could say about Institute. But, as you might have guessed, I have not the time. Hopefully the (again, hopefully) daily updates from here on out will give some kind of insight into just what exactly is going on here.

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