Teaching Spanish in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 03 2012

Finding the J-factor

I’m not sure if it’s TFA lingo or just Delta Institute Greenville-Weston lingo, but J-factor stands for “joy.” Someone has already designated that for my nickname.  We talk a lot about bringing the j-factor into our classrooms and just into everything we do.  This is the Saturday after my first week of teaching and second week of institute as a whole. I feel like I’ve been here for a much longer time. I slept almost ten hours last night and it was gloriously twice as much sleep as I average during the week. Regardless of everything that’s happened, I feel like I’ve never had to go very far to search for the j-factor in my day to day moments. No worries, I’m not making a joke on my own name.  Seriously it’s been difficult and busy but in the  middle of last week after my first day teaching my real lesson (that I planned!) I realized that I was happy. It felt weird acknowledging it, everyone said Institute was this craziness and the most comforting thing people were saying was, “don’t worry it does end.”  Yesterday, our school managing person (everyone’s titles are beyond me) told us that already 6 people have already quit.  I guess my CMA (someone above me) did say that she heard someone describe Institute like summer camp for type A people. Maybe I’m a type A person…

So you’re asking, what did happen j-factor?  Let me tell ya.  I officially became Ms. Lin. This summer I’m assigned to teach English Language Arts at a school in Greenville.  Every morning I wake up at 5:00am (or 5:15) by 5:30 I’m out the door on my way to shovel in some food called breakfast. Then we pack up lunches in our matching Delta State University lunch boxes. Then we pile in to buses and then we pass out. 40  minutes later we walk into the school building greeted by high-fives and cheery CMAs sometimes to the song “Call Me Maybe.”  We teach in teams of 4, my group does all day English. Two of the four teach dense literary analysis classes 85-90minutes each. In between those, we teach intervention (small group reading, classroom procedures, goal setting, etc).

Next week we’ll also start doing more writing lessons.  When we’re not teaching we’re doing work on our lesson plans, watching others teach, or learning more about how to be real (awesome) teachers. We do this until about 4:30 then we pile back into buses, sometimes if you pick the wrong one it’s like a 40 minute sauna session in professional clothing and giant bags of students papers. I pass out, other people sometimes continue to work. Then dinner, then back to work, then bed around 11pm or midnight.

So everything above I wrote the first weekend after the first week teaching. I didn’t have time to finish and post. We’ve had another week and another weekend. Week two was fine and now we’re approaching the middle of week three. Tomorrow there is no work because of Independence Day. Thank goodness. I like how positive I was two weekends ago. It’s refreshing. I’m still not too far from J-factor, but my lesson today was awful. I planned a lot of fun things but it just didn’t go as planned. I was down about it AND I left my computer charger at my school site. However, after a free BBQ dinner, sandwich ice creams, and fireworks with patriotic music I feel like I can get back into it and prep for an excellent lesson on Thursday. Also, I lucked out because my roommate has a compatible charger that I can use :D

Only 6 real days of teaching left in Institute!

In other news, I’m aggressively looking for housing in El Dorado. Last Saturday we spent all day driving to El Dorado, looking at houses, and driving back. This Friday is round two, but this time I have a feeling we’ll be able to come away with something more final.  I’ll likely be in a two bedroom house with a fellow CM.  So excited to find my next home!

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    Stories and reflections about the TFA experience in the Delta.


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