In just one week I will be sitting in the DSU auditorium among the energy and enthusiasm of the new 2012 Delta CMs! I can not believe that was already a year ago and that I am half way through my corps commitment. I am very excited to be volunteering at Induction for many reasons, but the main one is to be around such excited individuals who are coming in and just as eager and excited as I was just one year ago. It is going to be very helpful and re-energizing to hear their stories and see how excited they are to help provide excellent education to students in the Delta.
It is very easy in the day to day to get bogged down with all that is “wrong” or “backwards” about the Delta, but being around such a positive group of people who believe we can change the future of the kids in the Delta is just so empowering. As the new CMs get ready to come into the Delta, I want to give some words of advice that I wish I knew during institute.
Sleep. No one is at their best unless they have laid their heads down. Really, you can’t teach and be effective if you were up all night changing again and again what you wanted to do the next day. Also, some of the best sleep you will get is on the bus to and from your school site, use it!
Breathe. Duh, right? No, really though, no one will die if you don’t have everything just perfect. We all learn from our mistakes, and if you forget the worksheets or print the wrong ones, or whatever catastrophic comes up, it will be ok!
But with that said, take care of our babies. We all have kids coming to summer school, whether that summer school classroom is being lead by a Delta teacher, or by a TFA CM, take care of them, love them, and show them that you care. It is the only way to get them to be invested in what you need them to do.
Ask questions, offer feedback. Although TFA can seem like a machine, you can always offer better ways of doing things, and they may not always take them, but they will for sure try them. There were many things last summer that people asked about, and then they were fixed or adjusted. Many current CMs will also be around to ask questions, give advice and tell their stories, as you will want to do in just a year. Learn from our mistakes and challenges, I wish that I had listened more.
Don’t stress about housing. This was a huge worry for me as I had come out of living in a dorm room all throughout college and always knew that I had housing secured. My roommates and I were “homeless” for about 2 1/2 weeks, and didn’t move into our house until after school had started. It is scary and stressful, but it will all work out. There is a huge spreadsheet being put together that you will have access to shortly, and this will help with the housing situations. Find the people who are teaching in your area, and get to know them and find out who you want to live with, and deal with finding a house after. During your transition to your placement city there will be housing available to you. Housing in the Delta is all about who you know and making connections with people who are currently living in houses and people in town who will want to have CMs living in their homes. Don’t look online — it will just frustrate you, because many places do not have websites for housing. You will find a place to live.
Don’t worry about classroom set up. As an education major in college all I could wait for was setting up my classroom and I didn’t really think about what I would do with the kids once I got them. My room looked great, until I had 2 adults and 31 little bodies trying to move around the room. Then, it was awful. And I changed it, changed it again, and again and again until I finally found something that worked. Worry more about your procedures and how kids are going to do things in your room and much less about what the room looks like.
If it is offered to you, take it. If anyone is offering you resources, take them. You may not be able to use them for what they are, but you can tweak them and make them work for you and your students.
Until you make your move to the Delta, get some rest, talk to your friends and family and enjoy being called by your first name. Soon you will no longer have a first name and be really confused when someone says it.