Life as a Teaching Fellow: The Comic

Jessi Worde  is a Second Year Teaching Fellow at Van Buren Middle School in Albuquerque, NM

Since 2008, I've drawn comic journals for a month every summer and every February.  The excerpts included herein are from February 2011, when I was working at Wilson Middle School in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I had my own ragtag team of students called Team Austin-Boston in the Fall, rechristened Team Grizzlies in the spring when it became mixed 6th and 7th grade.  While editing scans for this blog, I tried to pull out themes in these comic excerpts.  Here are some themes:

  • Many sigh-worthy moments occurred, but so did many laugh-out-loud moments.
  • Lunch was a cute, chill time to bond with students.
  • I was discovering my secret love for teaching math.
  • Dressing business casual was an ongoing struggle for me.

One thing that maybe isn't crystal clear through these comic excerpts is: I loved these students so much it was overwhelming.  My weeks were a whirlwind of students, and on the weekends they found their way into my dreams.  Their lives were not easy, and despite the frustration I felt when inundated with bathroom requests, or my occasional inability to complete a lesson due to behavior management problems, I feel honored to have been a part of their lives for a year.  Today, my former coworker and I take one of these students out for sushi whenever he can come to town.  I'm pen pals with another.  One student called me for a refresher on the difference between “1D, 2D, and 3D” objects.  When some coworkers and I went back to eat lunch with our former students, we were dazzled to see several who had grown half a foot over the summer, some boys' whose voices had dropped to a disconcertingly mannish timbre, and many students who had sought leadership opportunities on their own in other after school programs.  I will always remember my first team, and while I may grow into a distant memory for them over the ensuing years, I hope they remember that someone in middle school thought they were brilliant.

Below are selected comics chronicling my time with them.