Stuff Students Say

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 17 2012

Worst grad student ever.

I am so far behind in updating this blog, and since I’m sitting in hour 3 of mind-numbing night grad class, I think it’s the perfect time to finally update it.  Just one more reason why I completely fail at TFA-mandated grad school.  Another reason being, I just dropped the other night class I’m supposed to be taking to stay on track for licensure in 2 years.  I really struggle with quitting any sort of commitment, no matter how unrealistic.  However, I’ve definitely had to come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be able to live up to everything TFA expects of me.  Also, I’m feeling strangely settled about the fact that I’ll be sticking around in Minnesota for the summer to make up the class and get ahead in future coursework.  Maybe I’ll actually figure out what life in the Twin Cities is like??


We had parent conferences last night and tonight until 7:30, but I (luckily?) got to leave early at 5 today for class.  A few of my kids were still hanging around my room while I was madly rushing to pack up my bags.  They know that I’m taking classes for my master’s degree (not technically true, but it sounds inspiring so whatever) and I told them I didn’t feel like going to class tonight.  Then, I asked them to guess how late I had to stay in class. I. guessed 1 a.m., but M. hit it on the head with 9 p.m.  “Isn’t that terrible?” I asked.  M., being the smart aleck that he is, counted back to figure out that I’m in class for 3 1/2 hours and shot back:  “That’s not fair! We have to be in school for 8 hours!”

Long hours aside, I did enjoy parent conferences quite a bit.  Most of the parents that showed up are the ones I talk to frequently anyway, but I did get to see a few that I always have trouble getting in touch with.  Also, it’s amazing how much more you can learn about a child from meeting their family in person.  W. tells me all the time that her dad’s a math teacher, so I’ve always assumed she gets plenty of help with homework.  But, her aunt showed up to conferences today with a 3 year old in tow.  It turns out that W. lives with her grandmother only, but her aunt takes care of most parenting responsibilities, along with her own 3 kids under the age of 5.  Her parents live in the area and have  4 other kids, but for some reason W. doesn’t live with them.

The age range of the parents always surprises me.  Some look far too young to have preteens, while others could definitely have grandchildren at the same age.  Surprisingly, parental age does not always correlate with intensity of Muslim conservative-ness.  I don’t know if it’s ignorant to assume that the younger parents would be less strict in their beliefs, but it was definitely not correct.  A few of the oldest dads were actually willing to shake my hand (I’ve had far too many awkward experiences with refused handshakes since I started this job) while one of the youngest moms wore the full face-covered hijab.  The journalist in me wants to barrage them with cultural questions and analyze the generational differences, but I get the feeling that would not go over so well.

I also got to see a few of my tough guys get chewed out by their terrifying fathers due to their poor behavior in class.  These parents hate nothing more than to hear their child was not taking school seriously, and unfortunately many of my boys seem to have exactly that problem.  I actually went easy on M. and only said that he likes to “play around” during language arts class, instead of giving the full details:  he likes to respond to questions by saying “me no speak english” in a fake accent.



I’s current event opinion:  Romney won Nevada I was happy because I like him and I hope he wins because he nice he played soccer and he has a big head.

Me, after reading his opinion:  “Oh, did Mitt Romney really play soccer?  I didn’t know that.”

I:  “No, I just made that up.”


I’s current event opinion:  The New York Giants won and I was happy when England lost. And I won a bet with someone They had to do 100 push-ups.


Me, lecturing the class:  “There are 60 minutes in between breakfast and lunch.  If you need to visit the drinking fountain during that short time, bring me a doctor’s note or bring a water bottle.  Whining will not help.”

I., sassing back:  “If my throat hurts I’m going to whine until you let me get a drink.  I have a drinking problem.”


There were papers scattered all over my desk during conferences and A. happened to catch a peek at my master copy sheet of Scholar Dollars.  These are little 1 in. by 1 in. slips of paper that I cut up and give out to students to reinforce good behavior.

A:  Ms. S., is that how you make scholar dollars?!

Me:  Yep, why?

A:  Oh, I just thought you copied each little dollar one by one.


At last week’s staff meeting, we were notified that after school got out at 2:30, teachers would have an hour until conferences at 3:30 and go straight to 7:30 p.m.  One of my coworkers asked if we could take a dinner break and was promptly shut down.

Coworker, under his breath:  “So we have lunch at 10 a.m. and dinner at 3 p.m. Guess we work at a nursing home.”


*Note:  Though it might seem like it from my stories, I don’t always quote the 3 same kids.  I just have a LOT of students with the first initials A, I and M.  Though to be fair, I could probably fill an entire book with quotes from just my 3 most ‘spirited’ students.

2 Responses

  1. Susannah

    I would love to ask you some questions about your experience as a Twin Cities TFA corp member! I am in the application process myself for a Twin Cities placement (I’m from Minneapolis and am finishing up grad school in Toronto) and am not sure what to expect next. Feel free to email me if you have some time to spare! I can maybe give you some Twin Cities pointers!

    • alwaysawildcat

      I would be more than happy to try and answer any questions about TFA in the Twin Cities! If you leave your email here I’ll get back to you.

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I used to be a journalist. Now I just quote students.

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Elementary Education

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