Teach For America in Oklahoma 2015: First Week of Summer institute. By : Laura Morales

TFA OKC                         My views and reflections are my own and should be kept in this context. I only speak for myself and from my experience at TFA Oklahoma Regional Institute training in 2015. 

June 1-6, 2015

TFA Regional Institute is pretty intense. I am not going to lie. The phone/final interview are starting to make a lot more sense. One of the biggest questions during those interviews was, “have you ever missed any deadlines?”

Now that I am in institute, I understand that question. In the next two days I have 3 assignments due that I am still working through with a lot of help. I was given a huge chart listing all our deadlines for the next 6 weeks. IT IS A LOT. It is a fast turn around time. Also, there is millions of little detail work that needs to be done that is not “due” but has to be done.  Some examples include : putting boards in our summer classroom, printing materials, making sure we know procedures, contacting all the parents, etc. It is extremely time consuming.

I have gone to bed everyday before 11. It feels very weird. I am used to staying up and doing work until 2/3 am. After being in sessions from 8am-6pm non-stop, I just cannot stay up. My body cannot handle it at all anymore. My brain cannot process anymore information after being in a informative sessions all day.

I knew it was going to be go-go-go as soon as I arrived in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for regional institute. TFA OK is very organized with the sessions and schedules. The expectation is high from the get go, no questions asked. The staff is very friendly and easy going. I am thankful for their dedication to the summer institute experience.

I am doing my best to not get frustrated with the material and expectations.  I was a philosophy major in college and did not anticipate ever to be teaching. However, I accepted my TFA offer because I will get to work with the Latino community.

Knowing that I get to grow with the Latino community in OK gets me going. I know it sounds silly but my life experiences and my personal visions only make sense in context of growing as a person and leader in the Latino community.

Exciting news…. I contacted Dream Act Oklahoma and will be partnering with them as soon as I get to Tulsa, OK. I am beyond thrill about this because in SC I was not able to join any groups in the Latino community except my college’s Hispanic Association.

Check out OK Dream Act : http://www.dreamactok.org/

I got really frustrated Thursday and Friday because we have to write our vision and classroom management plans. Even after countless examples, I am still a little lost about it.I kind of shut down both days and completely questioned whether I even wanted to be a part of TFA considering is so much procedure work. #AmNotAboutThatProcedureLife

However, what got me out of my frustration was finally getting to make phone calls to the parents of the students I will be teaching this summer. Hearing the voices and putting names with the vision of TFA, helped me tapped into my WHY. I am doing TFA because I was one of those kids. I am not going into my personal story in this post. But joining TFA is very personal to me.

This summer, I am placed in a 4th day classroom. I am happy to be in a 4th grade classroom because I learned to speak English in the 4th grade. #FullCircleMoment

I have a co-partner who is also teaching in the same classroom with me. Since institute is 7 weeks, we will both take turns teaching the same students. I am partner A and will teach reading. My partner B will teach math. After two weeks, we switch content. We both will teach reading and math by the end of institute.

We both have a teaching coach that successfully completed their two years with Teach For America. We also have a Master Teacher in our summer classroom at all times. The Master Teacher is usually a district veteran teacher. I was completely relieved when I found out we all got a teaching coach and master teacher. I feel supported even if I have no idea what I am doing. #GottaFakeitUntilImakeit

I am a little nervous to start teaching in a classroom of 29 4th graders. I have never really hung out with kids so I have no idea what to expect. This is so new to me but I am very excited. I cannot wait to be in my class and see who I am as a teacher. I am pushing myself as much as I can.

The seven week schedule for institute goes somewhat like this:

  • Week 1 – Sessions on getting ready to teach, many small group discussions on social justice and education, team building activities
  • Week 2-6 – Teaching in the morning, afternoon sessions on teaching, small group discussion, team building activities, exploring the history of OK and minorities, engaging with the OK community to build partnerships
  • Week 7- Reflecting on summer teaching, sessions, and getting ready to transition to living and teaching in Tulsa



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