Years of Teaching Series: Year 2

Year 2 of teaching would begin at Forest Brook Middle School in the North Forest ISD with some changes that primarily personnel changes.  Thankfully, I would love before the storm truly hit NFISD, but a lot changed from my first year to year two.

First of all, I would effectively become the only NFISD Teach for America student outside of the YES Prep (thankfully, I was able to send some of my students there). This was due to every NFISD TFA teacher including the other who worked at my school being transferred to HISD, which would work in their favor in the long run due to better money, benefits and believe it or not, a stronger district overall.  Other personnel changes came from firings, transfers and retires (the principal and 8th grade dean) which would lead to a variety of new settings. While this would not lead to new hires, it would lead to a loss of some great assistant teachers, brilliant writing teachers (O Ms. Living wherefore art thou?) and more. As such we had to take on more work.

To start the year I would once again be juggling 6th and 7th grade, but more so in a remedial sense. However, I was able to structure the classes much better this time around and there was a much higher level of respect for me. Also my lesson pacing, student jobs and lesson planning were significantly more organized. From having no independent practice to having structured independent practice. Due to this, TFA took a backseat as they thought I had a fairly good handle on my teaching. My odd certification meetings continued (bizarre middle of nowhere meetings with a kind old couple) to the point where even one person offered me his job - teaching film -a job I would've taken without the TFA commitment.

Partway through the year, my 100% passing 6th grade class came back in my favor as the new superintendent, principal, and 6th grade dean were pleased enough to move into taking over a 6th grade teaching spot where I really hit my stride and became a strong teacher in teaching 6 full on classes of 6th grade math while developing a rapport with a new 6th grade team.  We had a great time with my students and my old ones who were no in 8th grade truly missed and even asked me to come teach for them occasionally. When that happened, I ended knowing the entire school which made it amusing for literally teaching whole families and really learning about kids who became attached a teacher. Furthermore, my lesson plans really streamlined now that I had one grade (not enough of some NYC charters would tell me), my students jobs were better, and so was my discipline. We made a great deal of progress as a 6th grade class and I did as a teacher.  While I will never forget my first year of teaching and what all those students meant to me, I think only the bond I have with my students this year is as strong as my 2nd year bond (teaching 6th grade makes a difference). Lastly, I want to highlight the great Mrs. Wilkinson who was a teacher of about 35+ years who had even taught teachers who were once her students. I'm thankful for all the advice that she has given me (she still calls!) and that she is a brilliant example of a veteran teacher who is not failing the system in anyway.

Highlights outside of the classroom: All the new TFA recruits came in and I was a Team Transition Leader to help meet them. During this time, I would date someone awesome! Before that person, I had a lot of ups and downs with the new recruits. From that person, I also learned that I somehow had a reputation....as did my house; the TFA frathouse. Which was hilarious to me because we tried very hard in this first year to get recognized and by the end of the 2nd year we were the spot to party at - Halloween, end of the year and what not. Anyways, some people moved around, a good friend left, I explored Texas more traveled to NYC and ATL for teaching jobs, had some friends visit (SPENCER AND JULIA!!!!), and found the flaws with TFA that made it an ambivalent, but originally well meaning corporation(it is long past being an organization).

There is possibly more to say, but the 2nd year turned out to be a great year of teaching; however, I would get a job with KIPP Atlanta. While this got me out of Texas, I truly the missed the kids and might have even stayed if not for the fact that I haven't told many people. My probationary i.g. temporary contract was terminated due to NFISD closing within the next year. People, I couldn't have stayed in Houston even I wanted to, but thanks Texas for the certification which has held me teaching for several years after.