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Jun 23 2011

Roller Coaster Day

Today was such a roller coaster day at my school!

The kid I’ve been working on sight words with was able to help another kid with the words today which I could tell boosted his confidence. Then we played a sight word competition game, and he won because the word he happened to get was one of the ones we’d been practicing!I was beyond proud of him, and I know it really made him feel good to be one the same level as his peers even though his reading is a few grade levels behind.

Then my lesson happened. I didn’t bring all my energy, and the kids were squirmy and unfocused. I didn’t anticipate that my students would have trouble with finding the historical time period of a text, and instead I focused on the easier aspects of setting. They were chatty, and I was tired. Their assessments came back with an average of 70% mastery…. not enough to meet my 80% benchmark. During the lesson, my school’s curriculum specialist came to visit, and I thought that I was going to get reprimanded later for sure because my class was not as in control as I would’ve liked. My direct supervisor also came in the room, and I felt like a chicken without a head, running around the class trying to keep order. I was exhausted by the time the kids walked off to lunch, and I was really disappointed in my performance during the lesson. My kids deserve to be held to a higher standard. I was at the lowest low of my institute experience so far.

I sulked for about 20 minutes until my supervisor asked me if I wanted to debrief about her observation of my lesson. I told her how disappointed I was in myself, and how I regretted not keeping tighter control over the classroom. I reflected on my mistakes, and vowed to come back stronger for Monday’s lesson. She told me she was impressed with my teaching, and although I might have felt bad about the lesson, she told me that I am her strongest teacher. I smiled, but insisted that I still have so much work to do, and want to be more effective. She helped me brainstorm a few ways I can continue to develop such as thinking about what my students’ misconceptions about the material will be before I teach it, and writing more structured differentiation into my lesson plans. She said that most teachers aren’t at that point yet, but I should continue working to get even better. I left happy, but resolved to improve.

Then my school’s curriculum specialist came to my room and announced in front of everyone that she thought I was a very strong teacher. She thought I did really well and talked with me about ways to make the content more rigorous and challenge my kids more content-wise. That made me feel really good because she would not have been so forward if she was not genuinely impressed.

I had to go to a regional meeting tonight, also, and when it was time for shout-outs, the institute director called me out for my planning and effort to help kids learn tough vocabulary in our read-aloud. I was embarrassed as my entire corps turned to look at me, but also very honored that others thought I was doing a good job. I hope I can continue to live up to and surpass everyone’s expectations for me, but most importantly, I hope to surpass the expectations I’ve set for myself.

At least for now, I embrace this emotional roller coaster called TFA and will continue pushing to make dramatic gains with my kids.

One Response

  1. Teach For Us Community Manager

    Your post has been featured on the slider at the top of the Teach For Us homepage. Check it out at

    The teacher experience is definitely filled with ups and downs, but after teaching for a year, I would say I’ve had many, many more good days.

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