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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 23 2011

Induction – Day 3

You’re hearing from the new Middle and High School ESL (English as a Second Language) History teacher at East High School.

It’s beyond exciting.

The first two days of Induction prepared us for the worst eventualities, priming us for late placements and potentially weeks – if not months – without an official position. And today, out of the blue and rather alarmingly, we were told that all of the KCMSD (Kansas City Missouri School District) teachers had been placed. To say I was shocked would be a vast understatement. Our table at the time, ten of us sitting in a small circle, stared blankly at each other before bursting into laughter. I’m not sure whether it was relief or anxiety or disbelief or just pure shock.

But there it was. In the shortest of moments, we’d gone from complete uncertainty about the next two years to the utterly shaking realization that we were about to be told our jobs – our schools. The list started and we were all riveted, or some variation thereof, on the stage. Of the ten of us at our table, my name was called first. I had applauded, genuinely excited, at the introduction of yet another principal of yet another school, and had settled back to listen. It was the second to last name on the list and it wasn’t for a good ten seconds that reality set in. There was jerk somewhere behind my stomach and I was suddenly more nervous than excited.

‘Oh. That’s me.’

A few of the people around our table laughed, already clapping as they’d figured it out before I had. They’d been watching, waiting for me to stand up. So I did, vaguely shell-shocked as I stood with six other Corps Members for a group picture. And I signed my contract, still not really sure what had just happened. All I could think was, High School?

My application had listed High School English as my first choice. My assignment had been Elementary Education, my second choice. My assignment, my job, had put me back in Secondary Education, and I didn’t quite know what to do with it.

My hands were still shaking when I sat down. Within the hour, with the coming of lunch and sitting and talking with my future colleagues and our principal, Mr. Herrera, it had completely changed. Whatever emotions had prompted shaky hands had morphed into a deep, curling excitement. The prospect of no air-conditioning in the dank, murky Missouri heat aside, everything about the next two years captivates me. I’m to be working with one of the largest ESL student populations in Kansas City. (if not the largest – I am still new to this system, after all)

The team of TFA Corps Members at East High School numbers 7. Three ESL teachers, one Special Ed teacher, and three “regular” teachers. There’s a lot to be done at East, outside of the classroom, and the idea of extracurricular activities is absolutely thrilling. Between the other teachers that’ll be at East – both ESL and otherwise – and the other TFA Corps Members – both at East and elsewhere – there’s a strange sense of security. ‘I am a teacher’ is no longer a vague idea to be finalized at a later date. Instead, I am an ESL history teacher. I am a teacher at East High School. I will be teaching these children.

I am so far beyond thrilled that I can’t even begin to explain it. They cautioned us, after telling us what we’re going to be doing for the next year (or two), that our placements may still change over the course of the summer. We’ll see what happens. For now, I’ll deal with who I have the potential to become. I think I’m going to like her.

I am to be an East High School Bear. I will be become a Bear in teacher’s clothing. And vice versa. What that’s going to look like, however, is another story entirely.

After all, that’s what this story is all about. Not just for me, but for the children. The real Bears. (Wow, that was fabulously cheesy. I approve.)

One Response

  1. smshelle

    Let’s be real. I told you that you would end up in high school and I would end up in Elementary. Then… it happened!

    Your face was priceless. I am so glad I was able to witness this!

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From ESL expectations to the realities of an Elementary French Immersion classroom

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