Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Typical Day in Institute

Hello again! Getting ready to start week 5 (out of 7) over here at Memphis Institute and I am STOKED to be past our half-way mark. The next three weeks should be downhill (work-wise, not attitude-wise) so these are all good things. I got the keys to my apartment Friday and was able to check it out and walk around imagining it all set up yesterday. It is absolutely gorgeous =]
Apartment 4 =]

My favorite room! No surprise there.
Excited to cook with a gas stove for the first time!
Stunning, right?
 So that's what I'm currently excited about. But alas, we still have work to do people! I wanted to give you a glimpse into my daily schedule because I think that most people have no idea what exactly Institute looks like (at least I didn't before coming). So here we go!

A Typical Day at Institute:

  • 5:45- Wake up in my dorm room and get ready. Professional dress, OF COURSE, all day every day.
  • 6:15- Head downstairs for breakfast. Scarf down food like my life depends on it because I'm normally very late (oops). This is also when we pack up our lunches.
  • 6:30- Walk out to our bus. Try to not be rude to all the people smiling and telling us to have a good day on our way out. How are they so chipper so early?
  • 6:40- Sleep all the way to school. No shame in this.
  • 7:10- Sign in, set up the room for the day, have a quick meeting with the other 30 or so corps members at my school.
  • 7:45- Welcome the kids to school and sit with them while they eat breakfast.
  • 8:25- Community building time. All three of the teachers in my room do morning meeting and an activity with our whole class (of 8-10 kids).
  • 9:00- Teacher number one teaches reading. The other two leave the room to observe other corps members or have a training session in our whole group space.
  • 10:30- Teacher number two takes over for writing! The other two either prep for their lessons, observe other teachers, or have a training session.
  • 11:40- Lunch time. Have you ever seen an 8-year-old try and peel an orange? Not an easy task. I have learned to pack extra napkins. 
  • 12:20- Teacher number three takes over for math! This was me all last week. While I teach, my TLC (teacher leadership coach with TFA) observes me, as well as other teachers, staff members, corps members, people from other cities that want to start a charter school, literally ANYONE. 
  • 1:45- All three teachers do some end-of-the-day reflection activities with the kids then send them home.
  • 2:15- Head back to University of Memphis on the bus.
  • 2:50- Walk straight off the bus and into a session on lesson plan writing or working with families or teacher evaluations or whatever else we need to learn.
  • 4:30- Session number two starts!
  • 6:00- Freedom. Time to eat in the downstairs dining hall again and talk to everyone about who had the craziest day.
  • 7:00- Revise lesson plans, print out materials, prepare things for the next day, turn in lesson plans, relax? No, don't relax. Except on Tuesdays, when we watch the Bachelorette online. This is non-negotiable.
  • 10:00- Go to bed. Finally. 

As you can see, it's a long day (6am-6pm of going non-stop), but compared to my internship where I had to teach 22 kids all day, teaching 10 kids for an hour and a half is a nice break. The sessions are helpful, just exhausting. They're basically college courses on education, but much more practical than theory, so that's good. You will never know everything about teaching, so I'm just taking it all in! This week is short: just 3 days and then Tampa! Woohoo!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Favorite Places in Memphis (so far)

Hey everyone! Good news: Institute is just about halfway over and I am flying to Tampa a week from tomorrow for Lexi's wedding! This break cannot come fast enough. I'm enjoying summer school, don't get me wrong, but it's exhausting leaving my dorm at 6:15 every morning and not getting back until 7:30ish at night. But in this post, I wanted to share about some of my favorite spots I've visited in Memphis on weekends and such. We are super busy during the week so dedicate our weekends to exploring!

Midtown is Memphis, you guys
Of course I had to check out the children's section at the public library. This section is gorgeous! There are these huge plastic colorful trees and little nooks for the kids to read in. It makes me want to be little again and just hide with a good book =] 
So Seussical
Overton Square is another of my favorite places. It's a couple of blocks of restaurants and bars and it has a great atmosphere. Everyone's walking around and sitting on patios outside. 

So hip and happening
I went two nights in a row last weekend for happy hour for our summer school at Louie's, then a group of us had dinner at Chiwawa's with dessert at Yolo. Chiwawa's is a really cool Mexican place. We sat outside on the deck and had drinks, chips with salsa and queso, and some tacos. Perfect night for sitting outside and relaxing! Yolo is a frozen yogurt AND gelato place. Let's just say I'm already in their reward system. Best part of Overton Square? It's only about 3 blocks from my apartment. Win. 

For our school happy hour get-together

Great people to explore with!
This past weekend was much more chill. I saw a couple movies, got to have dinner at a TFA donor's home (they were also Gators!) with some other corps members, and did some errands. However, I did check out Beale Street for the first time Friday night. We went with a big group for drinks and dancing and had a lot of fun! It's really overwhelming because of all the people, but if you have a big enough group, it feels more manageable.
Hello Beale Street
So those are some of my favorite Memphis places so far and how I've been spending my weekends. Of course my favorite place is my classroom =] thanks for keeping up with me!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer School's in Session

As my title suggests, we're back in school! Honestly though, after spending a year in a big, crazy, school, this feels more like camp. There aren't many kids (about one class per grade) and we do an hour of community building, almost 3 hours of instruction, lunch, then almost 2 hours of instruction. It's a lot for the little ones, but it's only 4 weeks and you know they're bored after hanging outside in the heat for a couple of days of summer break!

So this week we are just observing other teachers, getting together our vision of our classroom and a classroom management plan, and having courses at the school about a variety of things. Monday, we officially start teaching with pre-made lesson plans. We're using these for a week and a half or so before we start writing our owns. They also give us a unit overview so our lessons aren't completely random!

After 11 days at Institute, I'm feeling tired, but not overwhelmed...yet. I had a heck of a day though. Our dorm fire alarm went off at 5:45, which coincides exactly when I was going to get up and get ready. I sat outside in our pajamas for a bit, but they pushed back our bus departure time, so that was good! Then after being at school for 7 hours, we had 3 hours of class. In the last hour, the power went out and we had to go to a different dining hall for dinner. Mixed blessing because the walk was further but the food was great ;)

Me this morning, BEFORE the fire alarm
NOW I'm trying to figure out this whole "finish my masters degree and actually graduate and get certified" thing. I have a little over a week left of my online class and then I. AM. DONE. FOREVER. (or at least until I get the notion that I want a PhD hah!) It's just a pain trying to navigate how to apply for a Florida license and then transfer it to Tennessee by the time I start on August 5. Time is creeping up on me! Well, wish me luck for Monday. That's when my collaborative group of 3 starts teaching a small group of first graders and we hit the ground running. But first: the weekend. Hooray!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

One Week Down, Six To Go

Ok, time to celebrate. I survived my first week of Institute! One week ago today, I was driving into Memphis with a car full of junk and a stomach full of butterflies. I seriously feel like I've been here a month, every day has been so so long! Last week was very inspiring and general and this week we get into more of the concrete ideas.

To celebrate surviving my week of endless sessions, I had a really fun weekend! My Transitional Team Leader (TTL) took me and another girl in my group on a little tour of Memphis and we went by my apartment in a fourplex. I hadn't seen it yet and my apartment is still being remodeled, so we wandered inside and found it unlocked and got to explore! It was very exciting =] Then I got to meet my neighbors downstairs and they were so nice. They let us walk through their apartment and we chatted about Memphis some before exchanging numbers and making plans to attend their house-warming party. Win. Then we went for sushi and froyo, which, if you know me at all, you know I was very pleased. It was just a really nice night to forget about Institute and relax and laugh.

Froyo at YoLo hehe so fun
Saturday I slept in, had some brunch downstairs, and just lounged. Definition of lounged: watching Real Housewives of the OC in bed while working on my online class intermittently. Then we headed downtown for a baseball game! We had free food from Rendezvous (delicious) and the weather was beautiful. We had some fireworks to top it all off!
America's pasttime

Oooooooh aaaaaaaaaah
Today I went to church at Fellowship Memphis: Downtown with about 15 other TFA girls! I really enjoyed the service and am looking forward to joining a community here in Memphis =] We went to Young Avenue Deli for lunch and oh my goodness. Delicious. I had a pita with turkey, bacon, gouda, and bbq sauce with sweet potato fries on the side. I have been here a week and haven't eaten at a chain yet. Jealous?
That's not three beers, btw, it's the ketchup/mustard holder haha
TFA hasn't given me a drinking problem....yet....
Then we allllll headed over to Starbucks to work on our first big assignment- to write a vision and set goals for our summer school class. (Does ordering a drink here mean I've eaten at a chain? ouch)
TFA takeover!
I leave you with this. It was seen on a post-dinner walk some of us girls took. I guess when a tree looks funny, you go with it. Here goes week 2 of Institute!!
Help! I'm trapped underground! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Spirit of Justice

Well, I made it! I'm in Memphis now and have already finished two full days of Institute! I had a really good drive here with all good weather and no car trouble. I also got really into the new Jodi Picoult book I downloaded on Audible and am now wishing I had it in book form so I can see what happens next!
You're the only TEN I SEE [wink wink]
Sunday was dominated by driving from Atlanta to the University of Memphis and then moving alllllll my junk up to my dorm and unpacking. Lets just say I don't pack light ;) Then dinner downstairs and an early bedtime. Yesterday, though, we heard some really great talks from our executive director and then from some Memphis experts! The opening talk was so inspiring as it focused on the spirit of social justice. Our director talked about how as a teacher in an inner-city school, you stare injustice in the face every day. One of my favorite quotes from a speaker was "I'm a teacher because I'm an activist" and that we need to be relentless as we answer this lifelong calling, regardless of if that means in the classroom as a teacher or doing something else.

My new home =]
That's when it dawned on me that TFA is so much more than teaching, it is answering the call to social justice that I have had since my time in Gainesville. This is such a passion for me and I consider myself lucky to be answering it through doing something I love to do- teach.
University of Memphis Tigers
Ain't nothin' like a Gator though...
So yesterday and today were long days- breakfast at 7am and then coming back to my dorm around 8pm. BUT, I've gotten to hear some really inspirational people, meet my small group of 10, go visit the area of Memphis I'm teaching next year (and this summer), talk with some people in the community about what they want to see in their children's teachers, and learn more about what I've signed up for. I'm optimistic and excited to see what happens over the next seven weeks!

PS: today was the last day of school for my babies and I already miss them terribly =[ HOWEVER, I am very much enjoying the "fan mail" I've received since giving out my email address! Shout out to St. Johns county kids enjoying the beginning of summer!