Years of Teaching Series: Year 3

After a recent to see my students who were surprisingly excited to see me I figure I would begin a discussion of my year in Atlanta with teaching.

Teaching in Atlanta would be my first foray into the charter school world and I would be starting with the largest organization...KIPP.  On the plus side, teaching in Houston (birth place of KIPP) gave me a lot of exposure to the history of KIPP through my roommate and some understanding of charters.  From there, I would look into not only KIPP NYC (I looked into several charters in NYC at this time including Achievement First, Harlem Village Academies, and Uncommon - if you want to know my thoughts on each of them, message me privately), but KIPP Atlanta. I had always had a good time visiting Atlanta in college and loved the absolute sense of black pride there.  This pride I would encounter when I visited a few of the school in KIPP Atlanta since all were interested at first and specifically two of the KIPP schools there wanted me to have a job.  Starting in Atlanta wouldn't give me a summer (they start early down there), but I would have a fun ride with my family across the Deep South to find my way to Atlanta.

Teaching in Atlanta would be a change from Houston as I would finally encounter Common Core (which is a great theory as the 3rd graders who grew up on it are doing great - you've got to build it first instead of shifting over entire schools who have no idea what they're getting into). I would also enjoy the charter feel of having much more support and people in the building who were willing to assist me and check in with me about IEPs, my academic work, classroom & content strategies and more.  Plus there were tons of meetings for PD that we had with the other schools in the network to collaborate on different ideas. The largest collaboration is with the huge KIPP summit of course - which may be one of the largest conventions of teachers getting crazy I have ever seen -There's a lot of amusing stories regarding that adventure.

The students of Atlanta wouldn't be as connected with me as the Houston ones (those are my first children!), but I did learn that I did something right as when I came to visit them several of them were excited to see me -shout out to my homeroom. However, I made some great bonds with some of them and enjoyed some aspects of KIPP Atlanta. Primarily, I would enjoy the personalities of my team, including arguably one of my truest homies in the social studies teacher, the Afrocentric theming of the campus - drum circles, dances, history and black lives matter shirts -, and of course my wonderful coach who I wished I had seen in Atlanta because she is a good reason why I got into NYC.

Of course there were some flaws in personnel, grade levels, admin, parents entitlement of the students, and some of the processing Atlanta had with it's dealings. It overall ended up helping my room though with some seriously controlled math groups and a good deal of learning how charter school politics works.

Lastly, I had good times in Atlanta with a ton of amazing people (primarily women) who could photograph, opera sing, express black culture, crochet, hang out from high school and even Troy Camp cameos. The city was always wild, but good to me too. Plus, I always find the whole mixing of NYC culture with Southern culture a strange concoction.  Lastly, I will always appreciate the women here since they're beautiful, intelligent and most of all independently about their black pride.  Truthfully, I would return, but NYC is turning out to be far more successful for me than Atlanta was. Still ATL all day!!!!