Almost done with Institute week 1…

There is celebratory vibe in the air tonight. Everyone’s excited because–Guess what?–due to independence day, we get to wake up at 6:30am instead of 5:15. Most of the Baltimore corps took this as an excuse to party. A week at Institute has made us appreciate the simple joys in life.

Institute has been interesting. That’s about the only way I can sum it up in a sentence. I’m having a great time, but it’s been tough. My days are typically 16 hours long, so I (along with everyone else) am consistently sleep-deprived.

Hour and a half long lecture sessions are rough to sit through when you haven’t slept enough, but I’m desperately trying to remain awake and attentive, because I have just this week to learn how to teach before my four weeks of summer school math teaching begin on Monday.

I’ll be teaching 8th grade math. 8th grade summer school classes are split up based on math ability, and I’ll be teaching expressions and equations to the lowest scoring summer school students. It’s going to be tough, but I’m excited, because this is my chance to make math make sense to these kids. They took diagnostic tests to determine their placement, and the results, while generally bad, aren’t completely hopeless. Most of the kids have the basics right; they just struggle with applying it to more complicated problems. If I can inspire them to put in the effort, I think I can make some breakthroughs.

We take our teaching courses at the school where we teach, and there’s a group of about 80 of us there, from the Baltimore, Philly, Newark, D.C., and Connecticut corps. There are about a dozen other schools where the same thing is happening for the rest of the corps members at Institute. I came out pretty well: I like my grade-level placement, I’m teaching my own subject, my school building is brand-new and air-conditioned, my TFA advisor is awesome, my veteran teacher mentor is really cool, and my co-teachers are down-to-earth and motivated. Many of my Baltimore friends weren’t so lucky.

More to come later this weekend…

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