Thursday February 21, another sleepless night in NYC

Its 3am and I already know I shouldn’t try to go back to sleep right now. Lets document what goes on today –

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I woke up at 10pm last night. I had a pretty rough Wednesday. I felt anxious/anxiety all day. Today was our first day back after a 4-day weekend. What was supposed to be our Winter Break, cut short because of the days re-instated after Hurricane Sandy shut schools down for a week this fall. I sat in bed until about 3am. Thinking and not thinking. I finally formulated the idea that I wasn’t satisfied. I can’t pinpoint exactly what. But I think its varying combinations of not being happy with where my students are academically, not being sure what impact I’m having with my students, not feeling in control of life right now, and just being a little overwhelmed and under enthused about life right now.

Luckily, I stumbled upon a clip of Tyler Perry on Facebook. I had seen the clip many times before, but scrolled passed the clip thinking it wasn’t worth my time. I was in need of a little pick me up so I watched the video and luckily got the inspiration I needed.

Belief id important, because belief is what has to carry me (us) through to end and plus… At the end of the day everyone who has every been successful at something has been one thing – human. With this back into the forefront of my mind I actually got out of bed and decided to go to the gym. There I was from 4:30 – 600am. Getting one of the best chest workouts I’ve had in a very long time. Being in the gym is the only time I feel l can give my mind a rest and invigorate my soul for the many different challenges I’m bound to face each day.

After my workout I headed down to school earlier than I had ever gone before. I got to school around 7am, and after downing my Bacon/egg/cheese and Starbucks frappucino I knocked out a ton of things on my to-do list with enough time to get off track and jam out to music for a second.

Recently, and really historically with me, I have been gotten frustrated when I haven’t been able to do something well. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m a perfectionist. But, if there is room for improvement, then I want to always be improving. I don’t necessarily need 100%, but I wont be happy until I feel I’ve controllably arrived at 99.9%.

1st period: Each morning I start my day with my English Language Arts class. Today, there were 6 young black boys in my classroom. When I think about this picture in my head I always think what could I be doing more to reach them. In this class I have good chemistry with my co-teacher that has actually been noted by my grad school coach. Another observation that I have as a teacher is that people can observe and describe two different things while engaging in the same scenario. Everyday listening to teacher describe situations we’ve both experiences has me hyper aware of differences of description right now. It makes me wonder how I can be better at getting a more 360 degree view of my classrooms.

2/3 period: Today during 2nd period I spend time prepping for a reading assessment we’re planning to use to for our Rewards reading intervention classes. ITs still a bit difficult for me to notice, evaluate, and describe students strengths and weaknesses with reading. Normally I think people think of fluency (to what degree a student can orally read the words in a passage) to rate students reading abilities. However, reading is more of a comprehension (to what degree a student can create meaning from the words in a passage) skill. During Rewards I put on Ferris Bueller’s Day off, then set up a reading station outside the door of the class to give myself and the readers some privacy. After class I jotted down a little note about the reading assessments:

11:27 – Just finished doing reading assessments with Rewards class. Have a slightly better understanding of the students reading strengths and weaknesses. Although it’s still a bit out of my grasp. Half of the class defied me and played the Warriors TWICE today. I came in and didn’t make a huge deal about it. But I was kind of shocked that after I put Ferris Bueller back on the second time that I came back in to the Warriors AGAIN. During various points of the class I checked in with individual students about their poor attendance, their attitudes in class, and of course I spoke with the young man responsible for changing the movie both times. I also had a students in the hallway aimlessly walking around. I tried my best to corral her back into the class, but I didn’t have any luck. I didn’t/couldn’t try harder at this specific point. It seemed as though with a bit of pushing (following her around for a bit she would have returned). But one lesson I have to learn is that I have to make the students who are in class the priority, not the ones who haven’t held up their end of the partnership.

4th period: Met with my mentor. I spoke with her for the full 40 minute period about my Wednesday. I had a difficult conversation with a parent during Parent/Teacher conferences. I was agitated from working everyday over the previous 4 day weekend. The exhaustion of rarely having a break was starting to catch up with me. I literally got home  at 6 pm and passed out on my bed until about 10pm. I’m not a perfectionist. But I see room for improvement. I feel I need to push to make some improvements more for my students sake than mine. Being a better teacher will have greater impacts for them than I. We also started talking about a student data tracking project. I will identify two to three students to periodically compile work from all of their classes in effort to see their progress over time.

5th period: English Department Meeting topic of discussion – What do we do with students who have passed zero english credits to date? Do we remediate, do we push through, do we give 3rd chances at old curriculum?

6th period: I RAN and grabbed some quick food, I shot the shit with my co-teaher. And did some final preparations for my 7th period class.

7th period: 6 students out of 15 were in class today. Attendance for this class has been chronically bad. With 3 weeks left before the end of the trimester students are either hurt by their regular truancy, or various health ailments that their parents take them out of school for, so they say. I gave the students there a rundown of the final 2 projects that we will be working on this trimester, and also let them know that I would be here after school on Mondays, Tuesday, and Thursdays if they wanted additional classtime to work on their projects.

After school: Special Education Team meets to discuss some of the upcoming work for the team, changes to scheduling procedures, IEP progress report torture (for us), and reminders to complete our IEP’s on time.

I had a phone conversation with some YouthBuild colleagues to see if we can connect their student leadership groups with our students when they come into town this April.

I also had a meeting with some friends a fundraiser we’re planning for May 2. (More details to come)

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