One thing that I've come to appreciate about the TFA experience is that I will walk out with the patience of a saint.
Friday, we were finally fingerprinted. Still no Letters of Hire, but hopefully by the end of this week, I will have 90 kids to play science with (THREE weeks into the school year).
Friday itself was apparently a test to see how we would fare in the bureaucracy of an urban school district. I felt like we were a group of little white mice searching for the cheese at the end of a maze. We traveled to three different buildings (not counting the post office to get the money orders we weren't told we needed) - one to check in, one to fill out paperwork, and then to the basement of an old junior high school where a very intense and frustrated woman scanned our fingerprints all the while insisting that, "I'm just here for the kids. I would not be here if it weren't for the kids." I felt like I was being ushered around by members of a Vogon construction fleet. *
Things seem to be slowly falling into place (as always). My classroom is looking more and more like an elementary classroom, and I seem to have a pretty good rapport with my soon-to-be coworkers despite having very little understanding of what my role actually is. Hm, speaking of classrooms... Here are some "Between" pictures of my classroom (after the Befores and before the Afters).
I've had a few students come and chat with me in the mornings (many simply want to "come help" to get out of class). But I can't help but fabricate chores for them because they are such a joy to spend time with! The pictures above were taken after I had two students role up balls of tape and pick up all of the small scraps of paper on the floor - they loved it! "Floor Cleaner" is definitely going to be one of my classroom jobs.
Planning is finally fun now because it doesn't all seem like just a big tease anymore. My days are going to be long and exhausting and I can't wait. A big emphasis in my classroom is going to be SAVING TIME. Since I only have a half an hour with these kids, four days a week, EVERY MOMENT counts. I'm pullin' out the stopwatch and making it clear from the first day that they DO NOT have the time to waste. Mississippi tests Science in the 5th grade, so we're supposed to cover EVERY objective before the test on March 3 with an emphasis on Inquiry. The Inquiry part is my job. I'll be starting at least three weeks behind. AH! Anyway, the class that saves the most time gets to listen to the radio the last 5-10 minutes on Thursday - WHILE playing games with the Word Wall and/or completing the lab for an entire competency in one day.
In other news, our PD has gone above and beyond for us. He has been to our house at least 4 days in the past week, either just hanging out and offering moral support, or suggesting solutions to our problems. I feel so blessed to have received the support that we have (our ICE Leader is great, too), and I am confident that I'll have at least one person who will celebrate my successes when I can't help but focus on my failures.
Also, I danced last night. I put on my pointe shoes from our last performance of "Giselle", and danced in the ballroom of my house. I can never have furniture in that room. It was wonderful.
One day... I'll have enough money to take dance classes. Or buy groceries. Or pay rent.
*Just a little Douglas Adams humor for ya, there. TFAers are a well-read people, just lacking in the sci-fi/fantasy genre - I shall strive to change that.