Friday, September 16, 2011

Some things I can’t change…

But I wish I could.

I recently got placed at a CPS elementary school to do some clinical work with 2nd graders. It is on the far south side of Chicago. I carpool with 3 other classmates and it’s about a 45 minute commute from Lincoln Park.  I have to be honest, after all that’s what a blog is all about (right?). I was terrified going there for the first time.

If you have been with me for awhile, you remember a post I did awhile ago, about another CPS school that I volunteered at doing an after school math tutoring program and my horrific findings one day after I was done. With that school being on North Side of the city, I couldn’t imagine what the south side was like.

I must say that I was happily wrong. We were greeted with such big smiles, excited teachers to work with us, and a resource teacher that could run an army... that’s how determined he was. One of the first things he said to us was, “I teach here to make a difference and I hope you are as well. These kids need a positive role model in their life and they ARE eager to learn!”

A white, red haired teacher greeted me outside the classroom. As the student’s lined up one-by-one to come into the classroom, I saw faces of children who were happy to be there and eager to learn. As the morning began, the Teacher introduced me to the class and giggles poured through the room. I could tell they were equally as excited for me to be there, as was I.

The morning consisted of no direct instruction, but rather 2.5 hours of state testing ON COMPUTERS! (Don’t get me started on state testing). As we walked into the computer room the teacher told me that they would be testing in Math today and that I am not allowed to help them with any of it. Well, the first question popped up on their computers and 23 kids raised their hands. The question was something along the lines of, “If yesterday was Wednesday, what is today?” Well, none of them could even read the question! It was heart wrenching.  I knew if I read it to them, they could answer correctly, but I couldn’t. It upset me greatly. That’s how the whole 2.5 hours went. Students asking for help, not knowing words, not knowing what a graph was, how could this even be OK!!! These students may be way behind grade level, but they ARE smart and it is NOT their fault. This is one problem I have with the public education system, at least in Chicago.

I don’t fault the teacher either, she is just doing what is required of her, but these poor kids aren’t even receiving the proper time for instruction in the first place, to answer these test questions. I asked the teacher if she had a change to look at the test before they took it, so she knew what TYPE of questions would be on it and she said they’re not allowed to. I DON’T GET IT!! So if they don’t know it, don’t take 2.5 hours of instruction AWAY from them!

After about 2 hours the majority of the class was done. They were allowed to play around on Word making sentences and playing with colors and fonts, which all of them had to be shown where the color and font choices were. (Doesn’t it put thing in perspective? ) One little girl said, “Ms. K, how do you spell 20?” I answered her and then said, “I want to hear your sentence you made. Can you read it to me please?” She said proudly, “Of course! I love my mom. She is nice and fun. She is twenty years old.” As I try to close my mouth as fast as I could, I say, “Wow! Awesome sentence her name! Now keep writing.” I go back to the front of the class where my chair was and did the quick math in my head. Did this child in second grade just tell me her Mom is younger than I am?

As the students hugged me bye and begged me not to leave yet, one little boy came up to me and said, “Ms. K, you better come back next week, I like having you here!”

The whole drive home, I thought about how I could change that class? Or if I even could in the short time I’m there? I want to make an impact and I’ve always wanted to, but taking on the challenge of 23 below grade level students might take more than one of me. I give the teacher so much credit in trying to change these little students’ lives in such a massive way!!

If only I was capable of changing such a large, extensive problem…

But, one day… I will.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Rantin' kinda night

This week I started my last 5 courses before I student teach in the Winter. Needless to say, I have been so busy that tonight I just wanted to be asleep by 9 pm. 

Well, that's not going to happen. I got home from class at 1:30 this afternoon and played with this lil guy for a bit. 

One of my girlfriends called me and asked if I was in the mood for a margarita. Of course, I said yes! So, me, her and one of our other friends when out for a drink. It was nice to talk with old friends again. (I went to High School with both of them, but we all went to different colleges.)

I noticed something though. We only had one thing in common...old friends and old memories. 

They both have big, adult, real jobs, whereas I'm still in school until next March. My friend C, has a serious boyfriend. My other friend R, doesn't. We were talking about the future, as we usually do, and questions came up of, 'who do you think will get married first?' or 'who do you think will move out first?', those type of questions. As we're answering, I notice how different we've become. A sense of sadness came over me. 

C, one of my best friends, made a comment about maybe never having kids...EVER!? Now, I'm not opposed to people not having children, but 3 years ago, if you had asked C if she wanted kids, she would have said 100% yes! I didn't ask her why she said that tonight. But, then she goes on to say that she will probably get married at 37. This puzzles me, because she has been dating her boyfriend for almost 4 years now, yet she is extremely happy on where she is right now in her I am happy for her!

I mentioned that I hoped to be engaged by 26 and hopefully have children by 28 or 29. She looked at me as if I was crazy! I thought, shouldn't my friends want me to be happy? Or be excited for me? I'm scared that when that time comes, she will disapprove of my decisions or choices. Granted, that is still 4 or 5 years away---a lot can change then! But still....

Anyways, my friend R, was talking about buying a house in a few months....a few MONTHS! We are only 22 years old, yet I am excited for him. I would love to be able to buy a house in this housing market and start decorating and all that fun stuff, but that's not where my life is right now. He does have a fantastic career and he is financially responsible. 

I realized how different our lives are and concluded that this is probably the new normal. I am a bit sad, but content.