I made it to Thanksgiving, which felt like it took so long to arrive. I guess that’s some sort of achievement. I’m 39% of the way through the school year, nearly 20% of the way through my whole commitment. That’s such a strange feeling, that I’ve made it through a significant portion of TFA.
I’m home for Thanksgiving, in Michigan. I drove 15 hours with another CM who’s from Michigan, too. I couldn’t have made the drive alone, and even with someone to share the driving with me, it was grueling. I’ve already got my plane ticket home for Christmas, and I hope I don’t have to drive home again, unless it’s for the summer. It’s somewhat disheartening that I have nine days off for break and I spend two of them driving.
We didn’t do much of anything for Thanksgiving in school. I’m firmly against the “dress up as Pilgrims and Native Americans and learn about the Thanksgiving story” idea, and that’s exactly what I did for Thanksgiving when I was in lower elementary. It’s culturally appropriative and teaches a sanitized version of history, but I also didn’t do anything else in it’s place. A better teacher probably would have.
I drove from Mississippi on Saturday, thenI spent Sunday with my family, and I went to IKEA, which is sorely lacking in Mississippi. On Monday, I went to visit Kalamazoo, where I had a total whirlwind day and saw a bunch of my friends. I also had the chance to visit the lab, the newspaper, and Wesley, which were wonderful. On Tuesday, I spent time with the cabal, my friends from Motown Mission, in Ann Arbor, and I saw some of them again today. I’ve been trying to write lesson plans for the rest of the term, the idea being that if my lesson plans are already finished, I’ll be much less stressed for the rest of the term and can focus more on having everything organized and prepared in my classroom. This should, in theory, make management better and maximize learning time (faster transitions.)
I’m worried that I’m not doing enough work over break and I’ll be lost and behind when I get back to school. I’m worried that everything will be a disaster. With these lesson plans, I’m following a new pacing guide that we got this term, but the curriculum I’m supposed to be using is stuff that we already used in the first term. I’m making do by picking stuff out of Engage NY and TPT, but it’s hard to know what to use and how it should all fit together.
I’ve worked out some ways that I can improve management with certain kids – for two of my kids who have been challenging, giving them little jobs around the classroom (usually picking up dry erase boards and manipulatives, passing out papers) has worked really well. I’m trying to work out how to handle another child – I’m thinking that I might try and make a daily ritual of talking with him for five minutes in the morning. Not telling him what to do, or anything, just making space to listen to him.
I thought that I might stop thinking about school over break, but I’ve been telling stories about my kids constantly. The one I’ve repeated most is me, asking one of my students about their baby brother. I asked if they get to hold the baby, and they said yes. Then, I asked if they get to play with the baby, and they get serious and say “No. It’s a real baby. It’s not a toy.”