Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 15 2012

Surviving Institute

“It’s my daily mood that makes the weather.” -Dr. Hiam Ginott

We heard this quote today in one of our COA (Culture of Achievement) sessions.  These sessions are meant to develop a cohesive plan which partners student investment strategies with classroom management strategies in order to develop a culture where students are working to achieve the vision and big goals of the class.  Pretty important stuff.  Sounds super intense, but actually flows fairly well once it’s broken down and fleshed out.  The quote was part of a passage about a teacher realizing his sense of agency when teaching class every day–the ability to positively or negatively affect a child’s life rests in the teacher’s hands each day.  This principle is something I considered heavily in my own Story of Self.

Today, however, it struck me how fitting this line is for Institute, as well as our eventual placement classrooms.  The first full day of Institute was rough, I’m not gonna lie.  From the 4:30 a.m. wake up to the rushed dining hall breakfast to the 45 minute bus ride (slight perk–I can sleep anywhere, so that was actually a bit of a nap) to the measly lunch in the middle of a ten hour work day of critical, new information, it was exhausting (and hot, but everything’s hot in the Delta).  The second and third days actually got better, because we had more intermittent breaks throughout the day, I packed snacks, and we checked things off our to-do list, which lend to an empowering sense of accomplishment.  Now, on the bus ride home from my fourth day of Institute, I’m happy to say today was a great day!  I think I went into Monday with the idea that Institute would be terribly long and complex, so it delivered.  As time goes on, I’m trying to change my mood and see how valuable these sessions will be not only in the next four weeks of teaching summer school in Greenville, Mississippi, but also in my classroom in Memphis starting this fall.  Our sense of community has grown throughout this week, as we’ve partnered with other CMs in our group as well as other teachers in our team (I’ll be one of three people teaching half-day English I while three other people teach half-day Algebra I).  It’s definitely taken some respect and humility to adapt to so many different working and leadership styles in order to reach a consensus on our plans for our classroom, but having those discussions and compromising has felt so productive.  My mood has changed from the beginning of Institute.  I now feel as though these days, while full and long, are manageable.  I’m not going to change the hot weather outside, but I can change how I react to it.  There may come a time when Institute gets really rough again.  Actually, there will, because I haven’t even met the kids yet.  However, hopefully I’ll remember these positive feelings of accomplishing goals and learning in order to make my mood as productive as possible.

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