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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 19 2012

“It takes 3 good teachers in a row to make a significant change”

If I actually said everything I wanted to in this post, you and I would be spending our day at the computer. So for the sake of all of our sanity I’m going to keep this short as possible. Bear with me…

On a side note of the rest of this post, you need to know year 2 is so much easier. Granted, it has only been one week and the honeymoon phase held half of the week. I have 26 students right now, even though 32 are on my roster. But, regardless. Going into a classroom understanding what a full school year looks like, feeling confident, knowing what you should expect from students, battles that are worth fighting, and battles that aren’t worth fighting are all little things have made year 2 already so much easier. I spent my first week getting out of my school no later than 2 hours after the day was over (including being done with work once I left). I socialized more this past week and hung out with people that care about me and support me more than I did the first SEMESTER of last year. Priorities and time management right now are in check.

But here is the real reason for this post…

On Tuesday of last week I had one of the biggest revelations I have had as a teacher. While my students were taking their diagnostics, I silently stood at the front of my room monitoring and observing my students. In the midst of feeling like a real teacher, I started reflecting on how different my students this year are from my students last year. The group of students I have could not be more opposite from my students last year. I’m not going to get into all the nitty gritty details of how. But the main thing I realized was the better set foundation they have coming into my classroom.

My students this year come from two past years of solid teaching from two AMAZING veteran teachers. Teachers I respect. Teachers I admire. Teachers I hope I can be half as effective as someday. These kids are friends with each other. They like group work. They want to hang out. Sure there are definitely little verbal arguments and catty drama between the girls occurring. And there are going to for sure still be behavior issues daily. But these students, as of right now, are EAGER to learn. They are eager to put aside outside issues and come into the classroom trying their best (I understand it’s only week one, but trust me on my gut right now and what their past teachers have told me).

After I realized this, chills ran up and down my body. I had remembered last year calling my mentor on one of my worst days and explaining to her the utter lost and hopelessness I felt inside my heart. Explaining to her that I was dying to make an academic difference in their lives, but it seemed so impossible. And I remember she told me, “Don’t give up. But understand, it usually takes 3 good teachers in a row to make a significant, transformational change.”

In that moment, I realized, with this specific group of students, they are coming from 2 years of solid teaching and gains. I am the 3rd. The 3rd. There is the potential of breaking that cycle, not changing the trajectory of their education, and settling for average and below.

And then…

There is the potential to be that 3rd teacher, build on a solid foundation, run hard at something I still feel clueless about most days, and possibly completely change their academic path.

4 Responses

  1. Cal

    That “three good teachers in a row” is pretty much an invented feel good talking point. Not to harsh your mellow or interrupt your little “chill”, but it’s fictional.


    So you might want to tell that teacher to stop filling your mind with nonsense?

  2. Lisa

    I have no doubt, Kayla, that you are their third good teacher in a row. And I know that you will be a positive and life changing influence in your students’ lives. Can’t wait for more updates! :)

  3. Kelley H.

    Yay for a great start to the school year! Your students are lucky to have you and I know you will continue to build on the strong foundation they already have!

  4. Aline

    This article was really inspiring. I think that some of the people that have impacted my life the most were my favorite teachers. They taught me to challenge life. I incorporated your post in an blog post just wrote. Thank you for sharing!


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