Milty Goes to Connecticut

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 02 2009

the 8th Grade Hot Mess and Cupcakes

Okay, three days into year 5. (Have I really spent half a decade doing this…?) I have 8th grade at a freakin’ magnet school. They should be angels, right? They’re smarter than average, right? They value their education and don’t get involved in messy, unnecessary drama, right?

Under normal circumstances, yes. In Hartford, no.

Two things:
1. This class was the last one in the door before the school became a magnet school.
2. They have a reputation for being crazy. The outgoing 8th grade teacher told me he was leaving to go to another school because he didn’t want to deal with that 8th grade class.

I doubted this. I thought magnet school=cake eating (in RobMay parlance, his nickname for working at a charter school). But wow, they are SO loud. And some of them are really strange. Not angry or explosive but weird. Like one girl who shouts out “HOT POCKETS!” in the middle of class, frequently. The one today who, during silent reading, took out a dictionary and started shouting random words from whichever page he opened to. I’m not sure I’ve ever had so many yellers and screamers and yammerers in one space together.

The other thing that’s really new to me is the K-8 schedule. It’s more like teaching elementary school. Although they do switch classes, I have kids in my room pretty much every minute from 8:15 until 2:40, except for specials, this weird elementary school colloquialism for what I’ve always called electives. I have to pick them up in the morning, escort them to art, pick them up from art, line them up to change classes, take them to lunch, get them from lunch … I feel like I need one of those ropes with the knots to keep them together. I understand why they do it but it’s the opposite of empowering. The kids resent it because they feel they’re being treated like babies, and the teachers resent it because getting middle school students to stand in a straight, silent line together is like peeling a turtle… with a spoon… a plastic spoon.


This is an improvement over the previous place. The staff likes each other. That seems like a tiny thing but the reason staff meetings are inefficient and over-long is because everyone wants to share and affirm not snipe and gripe. The kids are loud (and some are rude and obnoxious) BUT no one has shoved, sworn or thrown anything at me. The principal and most of the staff care deeply about their data. The building reminds me of Philly with all the murals. And quilts. This school has decorative quilts on the walls and hardwood floors in places and smartboards and on and on. (And really oddly-shaped desks that I’ll one day post a picture of.)

While it’s not cake eating like AF, it’s maybe cupcake-eating.

I like cupcakes.

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    Charmingly (maybe) Existential (possible) Musings (read: rants) on My TFA Tenure

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