∆ Jackson

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 12 2012

Finally…. [sorry about that]

I know, I know….I haven’t posted since the hurricane.

For me, when the going gets tough, the tough get…busy…too busy to blog in fact.  Or too tired.  But ANYWAY…here I am.  With a full (and by full I mean extremely shortened due to the huge amount of time that has passed since I last posted) update on life in Jackson, Mississippi!

So first, I’ll start with today, because today was a GOOD teaching day!!  And let me tell you, it’s not that I haven’t had good teaching days since I last posted, but, ladies and gentlemen.  It has been rough.  It’s been a lot of me feeling like my kids are not invested, not learning, and will never be able to learn how to behave.  (I still have one block where I feel that way pretty much every day, but other than that, there has been a slow but sure HUGE turn around from that point.)  Today, I taught about the history of atomic models.  I used a PowerPoint that included history of the world and art as well, which I stole from a fellow TFA Physical Science teacher, but my kids were so engaged and participating and then they made BEAUTIFUL “Atomic Theory Over Time” foldables for their notebook and I was SO proud.  I had one of my most difficult classes originally, working hard and purposefully ALL class today.  : )  It felt good. and happy. and everything in between.

One amazing moment today: I had a student who used to give me a lot of behavior problems (until I talked to his mom via phone) and then was giving me a lot of sleep and apathy during my class who (of course, as always) had his head down in class and was NOT working on his foldable.  I woke him up once and asked him to get to work.  *head back down*  I woke him up again and made him open his book to the correct page. *head back down*  I grabbed a Post-It, wrote down “Are you feeling okay, J–?”  and walked away.   He sat up, looked at it, waved me over and told me, no he had a really bad headache.  I told him I was sorry to hear that but I still needed him to get his work done so he can bring his grade up in my class.  He got to work immediately.  (Okay, here comes the amazing part…)  A little later I was walking by his desk and I heard a girl behind him ask why I had put a note on his desk.  He shot back, “Because she cares, unlike some people around here.”  Although I am heartbroken that my student does not feel that all his teachers care about him, I feel blessed that he understands I care about him.

So, even though I loose my Saturday to ProSat tomorrow and Nick has left me for an overnight trip to Tennessee, I am happy.  Elated, even!  And besides, I have our wonderful new dog Jackson to cuddle with all night.  : )

If you haven’t lost interest in my post yet, or if you are dying to know what I have been up to since August, here are some of the highlights:

- Early September, Sara came to visit and we had a lovely sister Labor Day Weekend, missing Lake Heritage fireworks together, but enjoying shopping, museum-going, AMAZING Mexican food, and an all-you-can-drink, build-your-own Bloody Mary brunch.

- Soon after, Nick officially moved in, which has been wonderful and much less lonely.  Plus, he packs me lunch when I have a lot of school work and grading to do.  As soon as he got here, we started with episode 1 of the first season and began working our way through Gilmore Girls.  What a man : )

- Since then Sara has been back to visit AGAIN–last weekend, in fact!! (Because she just couldn’t get enough of this BIG city of Jackson, MS!)  We enjoyed more effective (ie, the stores were open because it was not Monday) shopping and went to the Mississippi State Fair.  It’s the Littlestown Carnival on A LOOOT A LOT of steroids, but with a petting zoo, livestock, and live music.

- Nick and I got a dog from the CARA Shelter in Jackson.  He is some kind of mix that no one can figure out.  He was adopted as a senior, but the vet thinks he is only about 5 or 6.  His former name was Yancy and we re-named him Jackson (after one of the few Gilmore Girls characters that Nick thinks is sane, of course)  He is great.  We just got back from a walk at the park across the street.  He is now exhausted and sleep right underneath of my feet.

- Nick and I have been attending a United Methodist church down the road from here.  “Progressive view, traditional service.”  I love it.  Anyway, a couple weekends ago we went on a little canoeing trip with them a couple hours South.  After the first half hour, I understood why mom and dad always used to fight when we took the canoe out on the lake.  But, by the end of it, we were both having a BLAST and enjoying our peaceful trip down the river.  We even got some muscle shells for Gigi’s tank.

- My Physics class was going BAD…I mean REALLY bad.  My student’s didn’t know basic Trig.  Yeah, that bad….  And THEN!!!!!!  I had them write a rap about Newton’s First Law of Motion.  And it was awesome.  And they loved it.  And they joked that they wanted it on youtube.  And I took them up on that.  They signed permission slips, I made a channel, and now they have to create a rap for every Physics concept we learn.  The first one is still my favorite so far, but check them out for yourself at:  www.youtube.com/LanierHSPhysics  BONUS: We took a test this week and one of my students said how when he got to the question about projectiles, he sang the rap in his head to help him remember.   : )  Win.

- As I said, a lot of bad days.  I cried when  I saw the results of my Unit 2 test.  I still haven’t gotten over that blow.  But I have begun to light a fire inside my kids (or at least I hope I have.)  Within them, because our principal emailed us this quote one morning:  “You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.” -Bob Nelson

- I have decided once and for all I need my very own projector for my room (because borrowing is inconvenient and doesn’t always work because there isn’t always one available.  So, I set up a project on DonorsChoose.org.  The project is not up yet, but you can still donate and funds will go toward it once it gets going: www.donorschoose.org/ms.keefer
- I am still in DIRE need of Professional Fridays videos (see this post: http://vskk.teachforus.org/2012/08/20/having-good-days/ for more info), so PLEASE PLEASE let me know if you would like to help and if you already plan on helping, PLEASE send me your video as soon as your can get it together!!  So far my kids have seen corporate attorney, biomedical engineer, and architect, but they keep asking for more, so KEEP THEM COMING! : D
-The house feels settled in.  Especially with the dog here : )  And Gigi’s tank is looking awesome because Nick has filled it with awesome flower pots and tree stumps and bubbles and SOON plants!  (Once the UVB lightbulb FINALLY arrives he can actually put plants in.  Seems as if we will never have a new bulb…..different story for a different day, please let me know if you are interested in all the details of this one)
- And I’ll leave you (those of you who made it all the way through this jumbled mess) with this last tidbit: it has been a rough road and we are entering what is said to be one of the most difficult months…and even though I go home some nights and feel utterly defeated and disrespected, I still feel the same way I did after the first day of school:  I love my kids.  Every. Single. One. Of. Them.  (“Even the a**holes?” my ones class asked me.  To which I responded, “Yea, even the a**holes.”)  And that’s pretty much why I keep going. : )
Here is to awesome Fridays, good teaching days, and weekends!  Until next time!

3 Responses

  1. Marissa


    If you don’t mind me asking, what school are you teaching at? I am applying for jobs in JPS and trying to get as much perspective of the district as possible. Thanks!

  2. Ian Norman

    You know Ronnica, this doesn’t surprise me at all. I always figured you’d end up as some sort of teacher, and to be teaching under privileged kids? You shame me with your selflessness. Don’t ever let the world beat you down, not that I’m really worried about that, you being composed 80% of bubbles and 20% of mirth. :) I hope all continues well and say hi to Jerk-mani for me!

  3. Deb

    Love it. Sounds like you are making a difference for the kids. Sometimes all someone needs is to know that someone really does care.
    Love and miss you. I think I need to visit

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