In the Lou

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 24 2007

I hate my kids. I love my kids. Thank goodness we are apart for a while.

Pre-break week is icky. Grades need to be entered. Kids’ behavior is out of control. Instruction is coming to a grinding halt. At least I was able to pull off the ultimate learning experience.

I organized and executed a field trip for any/all of the eighth graders to attend BodyWorlds at the St. Louis Science Center. Unfortunately, only 79 of the 120 or so students turned in their forms… but wow 79 kids is a big field trip.

I’m horrible with future-planning and details, so pulling this off was a huge victory for me in of itself. But the field trip gave these students an opportunity to have a look inside the human body likely to never be available to them for their entire lifetime. We were also able to go see the IMAX movie "The Human Body." Many of the students had never even been the IMAX theater before. I shied away from asking how many had never been on a field to the Science Center previously.

Actually completing the field trip means that I was able to achieve two other things. First, I was able to convince my principal to fund this trip. At $12 a student, this was an extraordinarily expensive opportunity. And after the funding was in place we nearly lost permission to attend since the powers up on high declared that BodyWorlds was not appropriate for elementary or middle school students. Ridiculous. Some ultra-conservative person likely complained, and rather than stand up for the ideals of education the people downtown just decided to disallow future trips. Luckily, we had planned the trip and filed the paperwork before the decree, so we were able to get grandfathered in, so to say.

While I’m obviously proud of myself for pulling this off, I’m thankful for the other adults from my school who helped tremendously with the supervision during the trip. Additionally, we had a parent chaperone during the trip — nearly unheard of!

In class, on Thursday, I tried out a new constructed response practice strategy with my students. It is called "commit and toss." Students must commit an answer to paper and then they crumple it up and toss it to the center of the room. This allows for the answers to be distributed anonymously for peer review. I’m going to try this out again.

I rounded out the week with giving each of my students a holiday present. I printed out a grade report with final grades for the quarter and mailed them home! I think they will be arriving just in time for Christmas…

Oh wait, I did say I loved my kids in that title. I love them usually because they remember to act like kids and are cute and nice. Several of them brought me cute little stuffed animals and cards for presents. It’s not that I care at all about the actual gifts. I care that they went out (sometimes in groups) and bought presents and then gave them to me. Super cute.

I didn’t know that we were going to be giving each other team presents. I was surprised by this on Thursday when two of the team members came with gifts. Then on Friday the third team member came with chocolates. So on Friday, I announced that I had left my gifts at home. I made them yesterday. Personalized shrinky-dink name tags for our key lanyards. They are customized with an image pertaining to the subject that each of us teaches. It was actually fun to make them.

I’m writing this in the airport. I’m aware that the quality of writing is poor. I’m just trying to get back to writing. Turning off the computer and trying to get bumped to business class by playing the "I’m a teacher" card. Just kidding.

Update: I did get to sit in business class. And no, there was no talk of being a teacher. Only a lot of smiling and thank yous.

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    a Teach for America science teacher in St. Louis

    St. Louis
    Middle School

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