The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 23 2013

Reminding Them – And Me – That I Care

Day 137: First day back, already up late. Oh well. I’m going to find the good in this.

First, I was legitimately happy to see my kids. I put JP in a headlock and told him I’d missed him. I stook in front of my homeroom and told each kid, “Welcome back!” Coming into morning homeroom, AM made some snarky comment, and all I could do was tell her I missed her. She returned my comment with that half-smile that, although she’d never admit it, means she was glad to see me, too.

Second, my half-baked “let’s talk about the Boston marathon” plan worked out well. As context, the Monday of spring break, two men carried out a bombing during the Boston marathon, killing three people and wounding 176. Four days later, they also killed a policeman. I asked my kids what they’d heard, and then showed the happiest images that I knew of from the events that had transpired. Policemen helping injured runners; a spectator helping an injured man; Yankee Stadium singing Sweet Caroline behind a banner reading “United We Stand.”

I let my students know that no matter how much damage they did, it was only two men doing an evil act. I told my students to look past them, to the thousands around the world who acted as heroes in the aftermath of the bombing. And I reminded my students I was glad to have them back, that I cared about them, and wanted them to know I was glad they were safe. While this didn’t provoke any big reaction, I saw at least a few half-smiles when I got to the gushy stuff.

Third, I’m up late because I’m overhauling a crappy lesson I wrote the fall of my first year of teaching. Granted, this is an extremely inefficient overhaul, with plenty of ESPN and fantasy baseball breaks. Still, without blinking, I chose to not give my kids a lacking, albeit complete lesson from last year.

I made myself a promise last night, as I prepared to come back to school: finish strong. Today reminded me just how much I like my kids, and kind of missed them. Tonight reminded me I make decisions to ensure my kids learn as much as they can from me during the time we have together. All told, not a bad first day back … although I’m going to aim to be done before midnight tomorrow.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

Greater Boston
Middle School

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