Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 24 2011

(Written Last Weekend)

Despite winter break, a determination to be at school less, and feeling guilty about not updating my blog, I’ve still been terrible about it. The phrase I find myself repeating over and over is, “just keep swimming” (as said in Dory’s voice from Finding Nemo)

Just keep swimming

>Even when your district test scores go down in 3 of 4 classes.

>Even when your kids tell you they hate you and hate your class every day

>Even when they steal your cell phone out of spite for a referral

Yep. They need it.

After school today, I ran into a woman I don’t know who works at my school. I asked how she was doing and she replied, “terrific!” I said back, “Yeah, how couldn’t you be? 3-day weekend!” to which she replied, “No. I’m always terrific. Life is too short not to be!” I admire that. I don’t know where I dropped pieces of my optimism, but I’m trying to take a few steps back to pick them back up. Perhaps 6th period is my favorite class because I tell them how much I love teaching them every day. Perhaps 2nd period is so difficult because I told them they’re my worst class.

I’m on my way to Berkeley to reconnect with high school friends, talk strategies with a friend from institute, catch up with a cousin who taught in Japan, and see a high school teacher who taught me how to love reading again. These are the people that inspire ME so that I can come back with a fresh perspective to inspire THEM. I so want to love these students unconditionally, but it takes such a huge amount of self confidence to trust that that is happening.

I don’t cry. Well, maybe twice a year. I had one meltdown in November (seeing as I had had no release since I started this whole crazy TFA thing in June) that involved crying for 5 hours without stopping, but then that was it. Stress zapped. I figured I’d be good for another 5-6 months, but 2nd period snapped me on Wednesday. I didn’t cry in front of them, but as soon as they were out of my sight and I was on prep, I started bawling because I have failed these students in terms of generating a drive for learning and a respectful classroom. I woke up on Thursday with a new optimism. They were awesome in 2nd period. And then what happens? I discover 3 girls have devised and executed a plan to steal my cell phone. I don’t care about the phone, but the implications this has about the environment in my classroom are upsetting. I look forward to the return of these girls with a slight apprehension as I work to build up my classroom.

TFA work is sitting on the back burner. Need to get on that.

Skiing is my best release. I need to vow to continue to go at least once per week. It’s the only time I can let myself stop thinking about my students. I think about them while I eat breakfast, while I wash my hair, while I sleep/dream, before school, during school, at lunch, after school, over dinner, over a beer with friends, etc etc etc. It’s endless, awesome, exhausting, and sometimes needs to be put on pause.

Here’s a promise to write more often, and a promise to myself to continue to pursue my students’ excellent science education no matter the circumstances that present themselves to me.

2 Responses

  1. Filip

    You’re awesome.

  2. Sweet Sunday « Born to be wild… linked to this post.

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a Teach For America teacher’s blog

Middle School

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