Shake the Dust

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 08 2014

No Lie (in the words of 2 Chainz)

It is a rare occasion that people from “the outside” observe my classroom. So when they roll around, TFA observations make me all kinds of anxious and uncomfortable. Will I hear the dreaded words “apathetic and unruly” in a debrief or suddenly feel compelled to narrate the crap out of my students? All things are possible.

Luckily, for most of the lesson things stayed normal. And by normal I mean normal in the way that there were some good things and some not so good things and some crazy things. T rocked dividing whole numbers by unit fractions, B actually fell out of her seat requiring a tearful and dramatic exit to the nurse and X somehow incorporated 2 Chainz into all of his mathematical thinking… like I said, totally normal.

The not normal part came when the staff member who observed took the time during group work to interact with the kids. It was magical. The kids were on fire. I saw my girls demand her attention by working her name into their word problems. I saw my boys slyly inquire about her life and announce that they are looking for a girlfriend if anyone was, you know, interested. I saw their faces light up when she asked their name, their pencils scurry across worksheets in an attempt to impress, and their infectious and still gloriously innocent laughter when she told them funny stories about childhood nicknames and Laffy Taffy. They were rock stars. Rock star mathematicians, rock star students, and rock star tiny humans.

After I wrangled the kids onto the busses, I sat with my new TFA hero for a little while to chat about her observation.  When she said, “They are so sweet! I feel like they random act of kindness-ed me!” I about died. Now, I rarely get emotional about the tiny humans but when she said that I wanted to cry. It was amazing to have someone come in and love on those little buggers like I try to.

This observation reminded me that I don’t take enough time to celebrate how wonderful my tiny little demons really are. They make me laugh, give me extremely specific fashion advice, correct my bad habits, shower me with hugs, and so kindly refrain from laughing while I stumble over the word multiplicative. They make me proud to be their teacher and grateful for all the little ways they let me into their lives. They bring me their germs and teach me joy. They ask me to help zip up jackets and shove five fingers into tricky gloves. They are too much to not adore.

For the first time in my short teaching career, I’m excited for my next observation.

Bring it on, TFA, my kids will knock your socks off and probably up your knowledge of rap lyrics simultaneously. In the words of Pitch Perfect Anna Kendrick: We out.

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