It seems that I have not been blogging as regularly as I would like, so I will try to wrap up the last 4 weeks in a short amount of time.
I arrived in Cleveland Mississippi only 4 weeks ago. Cleveland is a town about the size of some most small towns in PA, but it is in the middle of the flat land of Mississippi. On my first day, I reached Delta State University to find a welcoming wagon of community members and nearly 200 TFA workers. It was fabulous. After the 12 + hours in the car from Charlotte, I was so happy to make it MS and be welcomed by a fabulous group of people. The first week was a whirlwind… no students just lots of information being presented to you by the school staff. My CMA (Corps Member Advisor) was a big support right away. It is her job to support a group of 14 and improve their lesson planning and execution in the classroom. My CMA has done so much more than that, and I will be eternally grateful. Week 1- Supper informative and in retrospect pretty slow paced. We got nearly 8 hours of sleep each day! Pretty incredible thinking back .
Week 2- Meet the kids- In my classroom, I work with 2 amazing teachers who are my co-teachers. We instantly worked efficiently, and they were laid back enough to allow me to the controlling me that I am. :) Our kids were great. We were in charge of 14 rising 4th graders. I was the Math teacher, and I gave them their math assessment on the first day of school. We did all the normal first day things, and went over rules, procedures, and such. That night on the hour long school bus ride in 100+ degree weather (no A.C), I graded their assessment. The class average was a 35%. This was a daunting number. Some of my kids got as low as 17%. Instantly, my mind went to two students. A young lady who seemed sad, angry, and volitale all day who scored a relatively high score and a young man who scored our lowest score in math and who reading was at a kindergarden level. They were my two missions for this 4 week summer school. I needed to transform their lives in order for them to be successful in the 4th grade. I wanted to help everyone in our class, but those two would be my focus. My teaching was fine this first week with students. The kids for the most part understood, but I still could not get through to my 2 targets. The young man’s inability to read got in his way in all subject areas. The young lady’s mood of tears to throwing her head on the desk to refusing to try left me frustrated at the end of week 2
Week 3: Ups and Downs- This week was honestly a blur. I averaged 3 hours of sleep a day this week which put a damper on my mood. I had some great days and some days that just stunk. Although this week brought me two important realizations. First, the young man who was at a kindergarden reading level had a learning disability. (On a call home, his mother revealed this to us). He understood math! He just did not know how to read word problems or even directions. His inability to read transferred to writing, so anytime I was asking for words to match the math, he failed. We quickly found a fix in math! Read to him and write for him. He does all the work, but we take the literacy out of math! He began excelling immediately! Also, we made a very sad revelation with our puzzling young lady. She has a difficult home life. She does not come from a safe environment everyday. We do not blame her parents, but the reality is that her home situation affects her school behavior. She opened up and told us things that made me cry in front of her like “I’m ugly… I’m stupid… I’m no good at school… My handwriting is ugly….” We immediately began making an individual plan to improve her attitude and implemented it on Friday of this week. There was no immediate change but we hoped that school could be a safe place with her. I prayed immensely to have the strength to deal with all the issues that were being thrown at me.
Week 4: The best week yet?- My class mastered every objective that I taught this week. This means that my class average each day was over 80%! This is from a class who was in the 30% 2 weeks ago! I was stoked! The non-reader was transformed in my math class, and the most exciting part is that we can see his reading improve. His has begun to sound out words so he can be the writer. His small successes have led him to bigger successes. Our other target has been a much bumpier ride. She has no belief in her own ability. She reads on a 5th grade level (by far she is the best reader in our class), and her math skills are great. Most often she already knows the material before we teach it, but she lets her attitude get in the way. Her inability to believe in herself exausts me and devistates me. I am trying to remain strong. We certainly have small successes with her, but we have a long way to go with the remaining 5 days! Acadmically she is ready for the 4th grade, behaviorally not yet, but I believe that WE WILL GET HER THERE! She needs us, and we need her. :)
*Another small success this week, a little girl who is an average student but needs a lot of work on her addition facts went from getting 15 to 30 right in a 3 minute time. We were so Proud of her!
So in closing, I have 5 days left. 5 days to show 10 students that they can acheieve anything they want if they work hard! 4 days to get every student to their growth goal on their end of summer test which they will take on Thursday. 3 days to teach them the best lessons that I have every wrote in order to make sure three more skills are solid. 2 days to eat with them at breakfast. 1 day (Friday) for a celebration of how far each one of us have come in four short weeks of summer school.
So as I stay in room 4B, Let me hear you holler, we are Super Scholars!
My last week where I along with my co-teachers will get every student to their goal of being a Super Scholar. I won’t be able to leave the Delta without this goal being reached.