Learning to Drive

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 04 2012

Duke

I have been teaching in Southwest Memphis for 65 days. 65 days or 16 weeks or 2 grading periods or 3 TAL Saturdays. The UGA football season is almost over, October has come and gone, Thanksgiving is around the corner. Time has passed.

This past week as I graded my Biology classes’ Unit Tests I became more and more upset as I gave each a failing grade. I turned to my roommate and said, “How am I supposed to get 154 kids ready for college? I can see spending a year on one kid and getting them there, but 154 with an hour a day five days a week, how is this possible?”

Yesterday in TAL 3 my MTLD had each of us chose a student to focus on from now until TAL 4, which is 5 weeks away or 34 days. We were supposed to chose a student that is tough; one who could use all the help in the world. We were supposed to chose a student we might be scared to spend the next 34 days focusing on. So I chose Duke.

Duke has been one of my favorite students for quite some time, but his smile and fun-loving nature is only holding him back in the classroom. He is failing all of his classes for the second grading period in a row. His mother is working through college right now and is exasperated with him. He thinks all his teachers frustrations stem from his misbehavior in class. If he doesn’t get it together soon, he’ll be repeating ninth grade next year.

I got my wish: get one child college ready. So at 22 years old, I am “adopting” a 14 year old. I’ll be keeping up with his grades in all of his classes and keeping regular contact with his mother. Duke has the potential to be successful, but he just seems to be misguided and needs validation. We’re going to work through this, and he is going to be successful.

The clock is ticking.

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