A Journey to the Unexpected

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 24 2011

Dear overwhelmed and miserable CM,

It surprised me that I wasn’t counting down the days to Christmas break, because I definitely was holding my breath for it. I have dragged my feet and my poor students through every day of the last few weeks, and it showed in our last test. We had some good days with great FAs, but by and large, I was ready for the end, hoping that next semester will be better.

That might be why I’ve been more surprised that all I’ve been able to think about is my classroom. I spent the first day of break “revisioning” it. I have nightmares about it. This afternoon I dragged my sister over and we rearranged it. Yet deep down inside, the same question that has eaten at me all semester is still gnawing–will this be enough? I tried to get all ready, and then I went to my classroom and immediately felt defeated. I’m not ready. I didn’t do enough. It makes me wonder–is this how all first year CMs feel come Christmas break? When will I stop feeling this way?

What is my purpose in saying all that? It’s not to complain, honestly, even though it sounds like complaining. It’s to set up what I’m about to say, which is this–When I was journalling this morning, I found myself writing about how much I do love life, and one of my favorite parts of life is that it never ceases to present new challenges to overcome and opportunities to experience grace. When I was driving home from school, I allowed myself that forbidden fantasy life where I am done with teaching–and where did I find myself? Still working with middle schoolers, albeit in a much more casual/mentoring role. I was searching for a specific resource this evening and stumbled across reading activities to introduce strategies that *gasp* I actually found myself thinking “I wish I could do this…” and it made me realize how much A-I love reading, B-I love finding resources, and C-I love sharing what I love. I can’t say that I’m exactly looking forward to January 2nd, or that I have any more confidence in my ability to effectively manage or invest 120 middle schoolers, but I’ve had to admit–if I didn’t think about those (crucial) pieces, I’d love my job.

So what is my point? Dear future, or even present, or maybe even past Corps Members: If you are miserable, I feel your pain. However, this is not the end of our story. It’s Christmas, and I’m not out (did anyone else read the POW story at their Induction?). When will my attempts be “enough?” I’d like to think the first few weeks of the semester will get me out of this “slump.” I have to face the reality that, even if I give it my best, it might not. The “kool-aid” (ech, I hate talking about kool-aid) of trying to do everything right (impossible) and nothing you love (miserable) does not help, and I doubt I’m the only CM who falls guilty of that. There ARE things I love. There are things you love. And those things may not be as far from our classrooms as we might think… whatever that means :)

Love,
Just another CM.

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