The Delta is a different kind of place and I really agree that it is the most Southern place on earth. At least, it’s the most Southern place I’ve ever been. It’s a surprising place too, full of history and idiosyncrasy. While I don’t think I could serve here for two years, I’m very happy to be here for the next month or so. Cleveland has rolled out the red carpet for us, with the highlight being a catfish fry in our honor on Friday night- and a Mississippi state senator went around and welcomed each of us personally. Additionally, I went on a bus tour of the Delta region on Saturday, which was very interesting and a lot of fun. That same senator owns the buffet restaurant where we stopped for lunch. Oh, and its hot. Really, really hot. And humid. And mosquito infested.
Institute is also a different kind of place. Those who describe it as Teacher Boot Camp are correct. It is a very structured, highly scheduled environment. There is little room for negotiation, but if one stays on top of their tasks, it is completely do-able. As it should… twenty corps of TFA members have gone ahead of us. If they can do it, so can we. I feel like I am thriving within all of the structure. Learning is so much easier when you have some of the country’s best teachers instructing you too (except I could say there is something to the phrase “too many teachers in the classroom”). They continuously check for understanding and are always pushing us and encouraging us. There are so many resources to take advantage of, I’m afraid I won’t be able to access them. And the best part: the new CMs are treated as resources as well — we focus very heavily on partnership — and a guy from my CMA group asked me to show him the assessments (worksheets) I have been making for my reading classes. Apparently word got around that mine are pretty good. A +1 for confidence! There is also The Green Monster, our 870 some pages of learning materials we use throughout Institute (we got through the first 400 pages in Week One)
Our first day of teaching is tomorrow. I feel prepared. I’ve rehearsed my reading lesson (distinguishing physical/personality traits through inference!), made my materials, worked on tag-teaming tomorrow’s morning introduction with my collaborative partner and at this point, I’m excited to be in the classroom tomorrow! I have a roster of 22 entering-7th graders. I met a few of them last week when I did reading level assessments (many read at an 4th or 5th grade level). It’s my job to move them from an instructional reading level to an independent reading level by the end of the summer and make sure they’re ready for 7th grade. We have a great investment/incentive system set up for them (it’s spy themed) and I’ll take some pictures of my classroom tomorrow!