Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 11 2010


The other TFA teacher at my school quit in early November. (Shhhhhhhhhh TFA hates to admit that people quit.) She taught 2 classes of reading (one 7th grade, one 8th grade) and 2 classes of math (one 7th grade, one 8th grade). Needless to say, it was a really hard position to fill, so we’ve had a long-term substitute with the kids for the last few months.

Luckily, the district also gave our school some extra funding to hire a part-time math teacher to bring down our ABSURD 7th and 8th grade math classes. (I wasn’t kidding.) In the end, they combined the math classes to hire a full-time math teacher and a part-time reading teacher. I’ve been refraining from blogging about it because I was terrified it wouldn’t go through (they’ve been promising me smaller class sizes since October), but today it’s actually real!

The down side is that my classes didn’t go down anywhere near as much as I thought. I now have 2 classes at 31 and one at 28 (and always my lovely advanced class of 16). Obviously I appreciate that, because 31 kids is NOT 38 kids, so I’m not really complaining. But the 7th grade teacher got one of her classes down to 21 and her others in the upper 20s. The new math teacher has two 8th grade math classes, one of 21 and one of 14. Her class of 21 is during my period 3, where I still have 31 kids and the ones they removed were NOT the crazy ones. I’m baffled by what they did with the numbers, and it’s interfering with me appreciating what I actually have. But I’m following Teach For America’s core value of “Respect and humility.” Those who know me well will be proud to know I didn’t march in and yell at anyone. I bit my tongue, smiled, and thanked them for the class size reduction they did make. I would LOVE an explanation for why I still have so many kids and they transferred so few to the new teacher, but I’m not going to get one. So we’ll celebrate my class of 28 and leave it at that.
The good news is that the new teacher is a major win-win for me. She has 20 years of experience, so she’s going to be fantastic, teach my kids (um, I mean her kids) really well, and be a great resource for me as a new teacher. But part of her being great is that she is apparently really strict and starting at a very low level. The kids (who are only used to really young, new teachers anyway) are HORRIFIED. They are coming to me and literally begging to be switched back into my class. They used to complain that I was boring and mean, but suddenly they remember me as really fun and nice. And they’re making a big deal about it in front of all the students I still have, who are suddenly vocally grateful to be in my class. I have 13-year-olds actually appreciating me? It’s a wonderful day.

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