with love and squalor

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 11 2011

A day in the life of…

Well, today was my first day doing both my lesson and the lesson for the girl from my collab who quit last week.  It was a little rough on all of us (by all of us, I mean me and my children) but we got through it.  The centers and math objectives for today were a little perplexing (but I won’t get too into that) so we didn’t have too much time to do hands on stuff, but tomorrow should be a lot more fun for everyone.  I love my kids so much.  I am so proud of them already and so pleased with our classroom culture even though today wasn’t the best day for us.  I think Mondays are a little difficult for everyone, especially the young ones for whom school is so new.

Institute is weird.  It’s so up and down.  Like, at the end of Friday, I was feeling so high on how awesomely my kids have been doing and how much I love them, and I was just so pro-TFA and pro everything that I smiled all the way home to DC even though I was in traffic for 5 hours from the storms.  (By the way, for any incoming CMs of the future reading this, don’t listen to the advice to stay at institute for the weekends unless you want to.  I’ve gone home both weekends so far and I’m having my boyfriend visit this weekend and a lot of my friends here have also gone home and are planning to go home every weekend.  A lot of people in TFA have serious boy/girlfriends or are married or have children in other states so going home is totally normal and it’s actually more easy for some people to get work done that way.  Don’t be brainwashed into thinking you’re going to miss out on all these social events if you choose to leave institute for the weekend.  I mean, you might, but you might have other stuff to do at home and there’s no shame in that!).  But then, like, today, I was in such a bad mood for the majority of the day, mostly because I disapprove of the way TFA handles it when people quit institute and the other collab members are left to pick up the pieces without enough support.  But whatever.  Even in the course of a day I’ll go from being super happy about something to super sad about something to super angry about something and then back again.  It’s pretty crazy.

I went home last weekend which was so nice.  I went to an Animal Collective concert with my boyfriend and his sister and our friends which was really fun but I was so exhausted that I actually fell asleep during it (anyone familiar with Animal Collective will know this a feat… it’s not really calming music).  I slept a lot and caught up on the double lesson planning I’ve needed to do for this week (I am all done with this week’s LPs except for one).  Institute really is stressful, mostly because there is always so much to do.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get done everything I want to do and I am used to having a LOT of autonomy in my personal life and schedule (again, at my college, classes didn’t really start before noon–at least none that I took–and we pretty much did whatever we wanted at all times).  It’s a huge adjustment coming here where, if you’re lucky, you get maybe an hour of legitimate free time.

To illustrate, here’s what my average day looks like:

5:45 wake up (this is super late; most people I know get up at around 5, but I shower at night)

6:05 out the door to walk to the dining hall

6:17: arrive at dining hall; enter, walk to back to “allergy room” to get my vegan lunch (huge hassel, bad luck); grab some granola and coffee and walk to the bus

6:35 get on bus

6:50 bus leaves

7:05 bus arrives at school in West Philly

7:06 sessions start (first week) OR go to room to prepare for morning meeting/set up classroom

7:07-7:49 clean room and rearrange seats, etc.

7:50-8:20 go to breakfast to help kids eat, greet parents, take attendance, take kids to bathroom, etc.

8:25-9:25 morning meeting (it’s complicated)

9:30-11 session, usually on lesson planning, sometimes on things like diversity and investing parents/families

11-11:05 SHOVE food in mouth

11:05-11:20 prepare math lesson

11:25-12:15 teach math lesson

12:15-1:00 teach centers lesson

1:00-1:15 take care of kids whose parents are late getting them

1:15-4:30 different sessions

4:45 back on campus

4:45-5:15 decompress

5:15-6:00 dinner

6-8:00 lesson plan

8:00-8:30 print; get things ready for tomorrow

8:30-9:00 shower

9:00-10:00 talk 0n phone

10-10:45 in bed trying to sleep.

and that’s on a good day because I got a half hour to decompress in there.  also, only 2 hours of LPing is pretty good, I think.  If I am lucky I can squeeze a visit to the gym or track in there to continue my decompression, but that isn’t possible every day because I’ve been vigilant about being able to get in bed on time.

2 Responses

  1. Caitlin

    I guess going home varies from institute to institute, probably because some institutes (like Philly) house a lot of regions that are pretty close. Most people I knew in Atlanta did not leave on the weekends, because they would have to go all the way to Memphis or NOLA, and a lot of fun social stuff happened then.

    • aea107

      i’m sure it does vary from region to region. a lot of east coast cities are accesible from philly. but i wanted to put that in this post because people told me i wouldn’t need/would regret bringing a car to institute and that is definitely not the case.

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