November 17, 2011
This time last year I was in a completely different mindset. I cannot stress the severity of that statement. When I say completely, I mean COMPLETELY. Before joining Teach for America, I used to read the TFA blogs in awe of corps members who said they would cry so often. (I have never cried in front of or because of students) But, now I completely understand the emotional rollercoaster that teachers are subjected to daily.
During the fall of 2010 there were many days when I felt like crying. I felt like crying from exhaustion, from frustration, or just for the pure sake of crying. I wanted to cry from feeling like such an adult that the only thing I knew how to do that would truly make me feel better was to cry like a child. Going from college to the real world is a hell of step. And while I can’t speak for other professions, I know firsthand going from college to teaching is a giant leap for mankind.
Institute was my first glimpse at what teaching would be like, but that was only five weeks. After Institute, we had a break, then Round 0. In August professional development at your respective campus began and then it was the last week of August; the first week of school. I was busy from August 23-June 1. Swamped. Plate full. Cup running over. My life was not my own.
As I said in my July 16th post “Institute was 5 weeks, the actual teaching was only 4. That’s 20 days in the classroom. I only taught 1 period a day for 75 minutes. As straining as it was, I have a feeling the past 5 weeks were only the tip of the iceberg.”
There were requirements at Hamilton Middle School of course because I was a teacher first, but on top of that Alternative Certification Program (ACP) requirements, AND Teach for America requirements such as All Corps Events (ACE) on Saturdays.
That meant lesson planning, grading, and attending meetings at work. Then leaving work to attend ACP sessions, and attending ACE at least one Saturday out of the month. AND try to work out and sleep so that you can stay healthy. Not to mention staying in touch with family and friends, and attempt to have a social life. There were so many times when I thought, “This can’t be life.”
I had so many responsibilities and obligations, and each was equally important. Looking back now, I still don’t know how I made it. There is no way I did that alone. Attending Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church and hearing Rev. Dr. Marcus D. Cosby helped tremendously. I prayed Isaiah 40:31 unceasingly. And eventually it got better. The fall was the hardest, returning after the long Christmas break was also hard. Somewhere after that, I got the hang of things.
I was a good teacher. I won ACP Intern of the Year. Yet, I don’t believe I was good enough and furthermore I don’t know why I won that award. I did not put my students on a different life path. I simply survived. I taught, they learned, and I survived. I guess, in part, that’s what the first year is about. But when you’re a part of Teach for America you develop this strange desire to do so much more than just survive.