All posts filed under: Teach For America

Room 401, we meet again.

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” —Aristotle On my first official day as a Duval County Public School employee (aka when I got my new email address), I wrote this quote in my signature. Email signatures are kind of my guilty pleasure (who doesn’t love a good email signature??), but it also served as a small reminder to myself. First, to remain humble because I studied philosophy in college and became a teacher by choice, which means that I have so much to learn. Second, to remember that philosophy is and always will be a big part of my life. Third, and most importantly, that in this work, there are simply things that I do not know how to do—no matter how many Professional Development sessions I attend, how many veteran teachers I talk to, how many books I read—until I do it myself. When I came back for my second year, I felt more at ease. And it wasn’t the kind of ease that …

Dear First-Year, Post-Grad Me

My spring semester, junior year in college, I became the President of Furman Creative Collaborative, and my first event as president was “Dear Freshman Me.” We set up a booth in front of the library on the last day of class. On colorful cards, students can write a letter to their freshman selves. I officially finished my first year of teaching and also my first year of adulthood. I’ve learned a lot this past year, and to reflect on a year of personal and emotional growth, I’m paying tribute to one of my fondest college memories. •     •     • Dear First-Year, Post Grad Me, I am writing you today from the day that you will wish would have come sooner when you’re exhausted, frustrated, afraid, and feel like a failure. By the end of this journey, you will be able to relate spiritually to this line from a Coldplay song: “Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard.” Right now, you are a bright-eyed, hopeful, naive …

Post-Test Reflections & #SaveTFAJax

160 minutes – that’s what 3 years’ worth of science education culminates to. This past Tuesday, my students took the statewide science assessment. Since August, I along with my school administrators and other teachers have drilled into my students’ minds the importance of this test. Passing this test means getting Biology in 9th grade. Getting Biology in 9th grade means you’re on grade level. It means you’re on the college-readiness track. It means you’re one step closer to a college education. It means you’re one step closer to freedom, to self-fulfillment, to achieving your dreams. At this point in the year, they could recite these reasons verbatim. When it was time to read the directions, I took one last look at my students, doe-eyed and brimming with hope, anxiety, curiosity, and determination all at once, and I stopped myself. I see students whom I butted heads with in the beginning of the year, but now we are on the best of terms. I see students who grew beyond the capacities of their own imagination—but not mine. I …

Why I’m (Still) Thankful

“Ms. Astari, please tell me you didn’t vote for Trump.” Since November 8th, 2016, life has felt like an out-of-body experience. You know when your body and your whole being doesn’t belong to you, yet life goes on anyway? I remembered vividly waking up the morning after the election. I felt dejected and heartbroken, among other emotions. I remembered thinking to myself that if I somehow made the wrong turn on my way to work, got into an accident, and didn’t make it to school, it wouldn’t even matter because my work doesn’t matter. I don’t matter. My family, my friends, the people in my community, and those whom I surround myself with don’t matter. There are millions of people out there who want me—us—to vanish. So why even bother living for the rest of the day? My mind went to a deep, dark place that it has never traveled to before, and it was terrifying. I called my mom on the way to work just to cry to her. I called my dear friend …

If at first you do not succeed… maybe you were not meant to.

I don’t know about you, but this past week didn’t feel like a short week at all! Even though I got an extra day off on Labor Day weekend because of Hurricane Hermine last Friday, I still feel restless and exhausted. I just wrapped up my first month of teaching and I’m halfway through the first nine weeks of school. Honestly, though, it feels like I’ve been doing this for a lot longer. I’ve experienced a lot of growth in the short four weeks that I’ve been in the classroom on my own, and most of that growth happened this week in particular. Some background: I teach 8th grade science, which is considered a “high accountability” position, as my students have to take a state end-of-course exam. The exam covers materials from 6th-8th grade, so after I finish teaching 8th grade material in the fall (Earth & Space Science, my favorite!), I spend most of the spring semester reviewing 6th and 7th grade standards and preparing my students for the test. The exam is scored similar …

One Week in Florida, Five Weeks in Tulsa

A lot has happened in my life since my last blog post. I currently have 3 drafts on queue that were all unfinished and written at different times in the past six weeks. When it comes to blogging, I’m not gonna lie, I treat it like a college paper sometimes. Grammar has to be as on point as possible (not perfect because let’s be honest English is my second language and I struggle with prepositions), and I’ve got to have a nice intro and ending. If I could find a nice metaphor or imagery throughout it, even better! With blogging, I don’t have a deadline, and I sometimes don’t have to turn it in. So if I start to forget the purpose or “end message” of my post in the middle of writing, I usually quit. If I had learned anything from the past few weeks, it’s that I can’t write or live my life like that anymore. The word that comes to my mind that perfectly describes the past six weeks is humbling. Truly humbling. But before …

Cheers to You (and Your Teachers), Greenville

For almost half of my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to call Greenville home. My family moved to this charming small town from the bustling metropolitan of Jakarta in December 2004, six days after my eleventh birthday. Since then, we have moved three times, I was educated here from fifth grade to four years of undergrad, and we never stopped commuting. One of my favorite stories is discovering that my fifth-grade teacher’s son attended Furman at the same time as I did, though he was a year older. It’s the little things like these that remind me of Greenville’s endless small-city perks that have made such a large impact in my life, one that admittedly I neglected to realize until just a few days ago. Today, I’m preparing to embark on the next phase of my journey. For those who don’t know, I have accepted a position with Teach For America in Jacksonville. I passed the Florida Teaching Certification Exam yesterday and I’ll be teaching Middle School General Science. While I know that I wasn’t an …