Adventures in Kansas City

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 21 2011


I’ve been meaning to update now for quite some time. Tons of stuff has happened in the last couple of months. It was always my intention to post regularly, but managing my life has been harder than I thought it would be.. Having not updated in so long, it’s hard to even figure out where to start.

For a long while, the reason I stopped posting was because I didn’t think I had anything positive to report. Most of what I thought and felt was negative and not worth posting. I was (and am) tired all of the time. On a daily basis, I was questioning what in the world I was doing and why. In retrospect, I wish I would’ve posted anyways or at least journaled privately, but I didn’t. Students, my own and students that I meet in ISS (in-school suspension–which I monitor during 5th period), are always asking me where I came from and why I came to KC.. 98% of the time that question is followed by, “Do you like being a teacher here?” For awhile, I couldn’t answer those who asked me honestly. This is mostly what left me unmotivated to make any kinds of public declarations of such on this blog.

Overall though, things have seemed to be progressing. Students have finally realized that I’m not quitting (which is something that happens pretty frequently) and I think it’s safe to say that my students and I finally have a mutual respect thingy going on. Behavior in my classes has been exponentially better; I just wish I could express the same sentiment for academic progress in my classes. I gave my final exam for both biology and chemistry yesterday. Most students performed as well as they were doing in the class already, which is I guess to be expected. I still have TONS of students with D’s and F’s. Distributing grades is one of the hardest things for me because I’m not really sure I’m doing it right. It’s painful for me to have to give out so many low grades. I’m still not sure I’ve found the balance between fairness and high expectations–actually, I’m certain that I haven’t.

On a very exciting note, one of my students, K, has really had some poor attendance issues this quarter. Many of her absences have to do with familial issues–a younger brother she has to take care of, a sick mom who she frequently accompanies to the hospital, getting sick herself, etc. She also missed a few days of school after one of her cousins was shot and killed. I don’t think I will ever be able to get used to how widespread violence-related deaths are in the community that my students call their own. K lives within walking distance to the school and on days she can, she stays after for extra tutoring. The extra effort really paid off–she scored the highest score on the final exam in my Chemistry class! It’s students like K who really make me love my job. It’s also students like K who really push me in thinking about what I’m doing here in KC and why. It’s unbelievable how much potential my students have–tapping into it has obviously been a huge struggle, but I like to think that I am making some progress.

With that said, we get out of school on Friday. Friday will be a halfday and then I will be home-free. I still can’t believe that I survived my first semester! I’m looking forward to the winter break and to getting some time to really reflect on all that’s happened in the past four months. As I mentioned at the opening of this post, my life management has really been out of sync. I’ve lost sight of the “big picture” and am constantly finding myself overwhelmed and overworked. My priorities definitely need some straightening out—I am so looking forward to some time where I can really, really reflect. Reflection has always been a big part of my growing process and has really been something that has been lacking these four months.

On a random note, my car got broken into last night. I parked it right a little ways away from the house and when I got into it to go to work this morning, I thought to myself how drafty it was. Sure enough as I’m waiting for the engine to get warmed up, I look over and there is shattered glass everywhere. My GPS and my iPod got taken and unfortunately my insurance has a deductible that wasn’t met with just a shattered window.. Sigh. Fortunately, with the kindness of my housemates, was able to get around and get it fixed right after school.

I can’t wait to be home with old friends and family. I’ve met a few wonderful people here in Kansas City—people who have really pushed and challenged me, but I miss my old friends and family horribly. I have SO many people I want to ketchup with and am very, very ready for this much needed break!


One Response

  1. Sue Canter

    I am so very proud of you!!!!! I pray for you each day and hope your holiday break will allow you to rest and recharge. Enjoy plenty of time with family and friends!! Be careful not to isolate yourself, thinking you have less in common, since your teaching assignment began. Reconnecting will be just one of the blessings you have in store!!!!!!!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

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