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.