Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Jackson Vs. Delta

I am at a different school with the same problems, but with a little more money and a few smarter people. I wish I could say that on an administration level things were different...but I can't, so I won't. I was way better prepared for the first weeks of school. Way better prepared, I almost felt cocky (sp?) when I held my homeroom class or they messed up the bells. I brushed it off, and kept on teaching as if I knew they were going to ask us to keep the same class for 4 hours. I truly was ready, even though I was very nervous. I went in with very solid procedures, and I had been dreaming about the first days for nearly eleven months (after my dismal first-first days last year). Last year, I was in awe of the problems in my school, my students and their problems, the lack of information given to me by administrators, etc. I was thrown into the fire and I was burnt the rest of the year. I had very good intentions and I worked my ass off, but the start of the year was terrible. Couple that with zero support from administrators (two of them in one year) and you have yourself a volcano. This year, I did have better support and a little more organization, but I was much more confident about what I needed to do. Confidence is something that I didn't have last year (at all). Now, I know what my strengths are because I know how students respond to me. I know (very well ) that I am a "different" teacher. Within in about three days, students knew that I am about business and that I take learning very seriously.

The only thing I was not prepared for was having 40 students in one class-- I would like Mr. Wong to take a crack at controlling students who do not even have desks or a place to sit. Oh and did I mention that 17 of them are self-contained special education students????? Yeah, I forgave myself for having one bad period....

Sunday, August 27, 2006

What will I do next year?

Throughout this summer and especially right now, I feel a crunch to decide what to do next year. I have finally decided to pursue what I set out to pursue-- a PhD in literature. I am not looking forward to application process. And in-between grading papers and ole miss classes; I don't really know how I am going to prepare for the GRE's. Actually I am really concerned with the GRE lit tests. Yikes, what a monster.

I cannot stand how standardized tests only include African-American and ethnic literature with questions about white authors. This weirdness is also included in the Praxis exam in lit as well. For example they will quote a poem by a dead white guy that, say Langston Hughes used. Does the question require ANY knowledge of African American literature-- no! Anyway, I am going to be reading or at least pretending to read some more "canonized" texts. I think having to defend the legitimacy of English to 6th and 7th graders really pushed me to keep studying literature. If I could defend it to my students, on a regular basis-- then I can definitely defend it to myself.

I miss literature classes immensely, and I miss reading theory and wonderful books. I can’t believe that it has been nearly two years since I took a literature class. I already have dissertation ideas—who said living in a small Delta town would stop one from dreaming. In truth, watching my students and knowing the limited options they have for study, I felt even more compelled to keep studying. I am not looking forward to the isolation I will feel in graduate schools. One of my mentor teachers, who was the only black faculty member in the lit department told me that it gets pretty lonely (as if undergrad wasn’t bad enough) as far as racial or socio-economic diversity. I was looking at the stats and he is completely right. At many programs there are literally one or two students of color and although there is limited statistics on class—the few statistics I have seen are abysmal. Most students who go to graduate schools in the humanities are rich and white. Even though right now, I cannot imagine missing in Mississippi—I know I will. For the first time in my life-- I deal little with these types of people.