Saturday, September 14, 2013

3 Weeks in the Trenches

Woah. I'm here.

Originally the title of this blog was "1 week in the trenches" . . . but obviously I didn't get around to publishing till now. Teaching at an elementary school in an area riddled with poverty is not easy. Of course it is not easy. The reason I signed up through Teach For America was to get into a classroom and see first hand what was happening in struggling public schools. I have done a little writing and thinking about education and "reform" and all that, but I've always known I could never understand or make a meaningful difference in the field of education if I didn't get into the trenches at least for a while. I wanted a first hand experience.

And now I am getting it.

So far, six lessons have been injected into me through my short experience as a 2nd grade teacher thus far:
1. There is so much more to public school than academics
2. Teachers actually are superhuman
3. Self control is the gateway to service
4. Teaching is about finding the sweet and tender balance amidst insane chaos
5. Educational technology is cool, but is it possible the field is turning a blind eye to the biggest issues?
6. Continued raw failure is the essential attribute of true learning
If you are a current teacher, or have taught before, you may be holding back a knowing smile. I'm sure I sound like a really silly kid who thinks he has figured it all out. While it is true I am a rather silly idealistic kid, it has never been more clear to me how little I actually know.

In my next posts I will expound on the six points above. As I reflect on what I am learning and thinking I invite you to share your questions, comments, or your own reflections on education so we can learn more together.


  1. Wow Grey these are really profound lessons to be learning. I can't wait to read more about them--especially what you said about self control being the gateway to service. Sounds like you are learning a ton--amidst a hard thing. In the trenches, as you say. Sure love you and am praying for you!

    1. I'm with Lucy- very excited to learn more about these six provocative points. Happy you sound like progress is being made. Wondering how the positive reinforcement on the shorter term is working out.

  2. I did smile a little because I agree. I agree with your 6 points. I look forward to hearing why you came to each one. I realize it is very simplified when I say just love but I guess my thought is, if you truly love the kids, the right things will happen. You experiment with discipline, you play with lesson ideas, you think out of the box, you look at each child and try to find a way to reach them. You probably have no parent support but I believe in you and look forward to hearing more!

    1. I actually have tons of parent support, which is great. I agree with you about love, and that is what I am really going to focus on this week. Thanks Auntie!

  3. Greg, I understand a great deal of what you posted, I lived the teacher's life through my parents being educators (administrative and as teachers). And now, I get to live it again through you! I'm so happy!

  4. I did have a smile as I read this. You are learning this lessons much sooner than I did. It was great to see you today!