Summer Fun

I had this idea in my mind that after HSA’s I was really going to get the chance to relax. But then there were still finals, and I thought to myself, well I just have to make it to finals, then I can relax. But then I had to take down my room and watch the handful of kids who still showed up. So then I thought, well, I just need to wait until the end of school…

To make a long story short, it took pretty much the rest of the month of June for me to start to decompress. It didn’t help that my schedule stayed pretty full for most of June. The first week after school was pretty much booked up with a 3 day, full-time school-wide professional development seminar. And I spent much of the rest of the week helping organize Induction ’09, the official welcome for the incoming TFA corps members.

The PD seminar was useful, but boring. Most good PD’s you can get great information, and as far as PD’s go, I’d say this one was excellent. But I really didn’t want to be there, and it moved very slowly. One thing really stuck out to me, though. The PD is all about skillful teaching, and basically covers every aspect of skillful teaching (go figure). The book that came with the PD divides pedagogical knowledge–basically every aspect of the art of teaching–into a pyramid, comprised of overarching objective, curriculum design, planning, objectives, assessment, learning experiences, personal relationship building, class climate, expectations, clarity, principles of learning, models of teaching, space, time, routines, attention, momentum, discipline, and foundation of essential beliefs.

Does that seem overwhelming?

My first thought was, yep, I pretty much agree that each and every one of those things is a component of the job of teaching. And my second thought was, no wonder I was overwhelmed all year. That’s 19 different areas of performance, as the book calls them, and I was a total beginner in each one of them. The book devotes a chapter to each one of them. It’s a big book. People always ask me, what makes teaching so complicated and time-consuming. And it’s a tough question to answer. Well, that’s pretty much it right there.

The second part of that week, welcoming in the ’09’s, was awesome. This year, TFA Baltimore is bringing in almost twice the number of corps members as my year. And by most standards, my cohort didn’t exactly rock the house. We’ve lost like 15 people. So, a lot of us wanted to take the initiative to try and help build a more cohesive corps culture from the get go to hopefully get this year’s corps started on the right foot. It was a lot of fun. In some ways, it’s kind of funny to see the new kids, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to tackle the problems of urban education, not knowing what the heck they got themselves into. But in some ways, it’s also really refreshing. In any case, they just started Institute this week. Just to think, it was only a year ago that I was in their shoes–it seems like a lot longer ago than that.

P.S. I have had a number of people ask how those HSA Algebra scores turned out. As of now, I don’t yet know. I’ll be sure to post an update when I do.