Meet your Colleagues: Renee in Norfolk

Name: Renee White
Site: Norfolk, VA
Subject Teaching: 8th grade English & 9th grade seminar
School Attending/Year: Smith College, Junior

After a jam-packed O-Week, and staying at school until 9:30 on both Friday and Saturday nights before the kids came, we were finally ready for Monday morning. The halls were all decorated with our theme for the summer, “go green,” and all of the teachers were prepared with their bulletin boards decorated, and lesson plans ready. On Monday morning we greeted the buses with lots of energy and were outfited entirely in green.

This was the first time I have worked with middle school students, and my biggest concern was how exactly to draw the line between being a teacher and a friend. I signed on to Breakthough because I loved the idea of having small class sizes and having the teacher-student relationship extend beyond the classroom. Now it’s time to figure out exactly what this means.

Since this week was spirit week, we spent lots of time working in clubs.
I really tried to participate in the cheer, skit, and dance as both a teacher and a student to show the kids that I want to be involved and that I cared. I also spent some time playing pitball with the kids (a popular game at Breakthrough Norfolk) at breakfast and lunch.
With this said, the first week was not all fun and games. In our 9th grade seminar entitled, Measuring the Inaccuracies of U.S. History, my co-teacher and I realized that our students are not exactly as in to discovering what’s “left out” of history text books as we are. They brought this to our attention on Wednesday morning, and a few continued to make it evident in their behavior throughout the rest of the week.
We have talked with our mentor teachers, and hopefully next week will leave the kids with a different impression of the class. However, without experiences like this, my job would be easy. My kids are making me think deeply about the teaching profession and how to be effective in the classroom, and for that I am most grateful.


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