Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 03 2010

Sickling makes it through the week.

Monday: Caroline wakes up thinking she must have clenched her teeth in her sleep, but realizes the (fairly intense) pain is actually deep in her ear. At school, she is observed by her CMA (Corps Member Advisor) and SD (School Director). Big deal. Her lesson is a miserable failure, she is eager for feedback. Gets good feedback.

Tuesday: Caroline’s lesson is worse. (How this is possible, she is not sure.) She leaves school wanting to cry, wanting to quit, and with sinuses so painful she tries not to talk.

Wednesday: People ask Caroline why she is at school because she does not sound, look, or feel well. She has no confidence, but after a tiny-but-highly-impactful management session performs the best lesson she has ever taught and leaves feeling like she now understands, for the most part, how to control her classroom. It’s also TFA DAY, AKA Totally Free Afternoon day- she spends it sickly admiring the two new books brother Christiaan sent Shoplifting from American Apparel and The Summer Book.

Thursday: Caroline wakes up with mucus pouring from her eye. She assumes pink eye and decides to miss school for the doctor. She feels intense guilt, spends four hours doing the following: driving to doctor, talking to three people to find doctor between three buildings, talks to receptionist, is told she must have a SS Card to verify insurance, drives to SS office to get SS verification, goes to doctor, waits another hour, goes in, gets weighed (has lost 5 pounds since coming to the Delta), gets three x-rays (seriously?!), gets bloodwork (?!?!), talks to doctor, goes to pharmacy, waits half an hour for perscriptions, finds out insurance has changed that day, waits another 20 minutes, finds out doctor wrote four prescriptions without telling her, takes two of them, sleeps for five hours, writes three lesson plans. Meets girl that is very worried because her car broke down and she needs to get to Little Rock before her 7am flight. Caroline lends said girl (Elizabeth) her car.

Friday: Caroline wakes up with improved sinuses but is nauseous all day, fails at teaching her 5th graders division because they honestly have no idea what it is or how to do it, despite three lessons on it already. They also don’t know their times tables, which hinders the process. She comes home, roommate gone for the weekend, and is sad. Her close friends are getting married in Kalamazoo. Tons more close friends are there. She can’t go. She misses her mother. Caroline meanders campus, finds a group of five people whose names she can’t remember casually drinking Bud Light Lime outside, they offer her one, she sits. She bonds. She is proud and glad to proactively force herself to interact, to get to know more people around her. She consciously forces herself to text four others asking what they are doing, checking in, reinforcing friendships.

Tonight was hard, honestly. Being sick is very difficult, not feeling close enough to people to seek comfort. I want someone to read to me, I want someone to tell me it’s fine I missed one day of school. Sister Genevieve has been a pillar of security and stability in this week. I am learning how to lean on family. I am learning how to be an adult. I am learning how to be mature by using support everywhere, not just pretending to be by closing people out and trying to do it on my own.

I do love my kids, and I know I will love my job. I can’t wait to find housing. Tomorrow I have to retake one part of the PRAXIS 1. Long story short, I was 3 points shy of meeting the AR state requirement for writing. For writing, which is what I’m placed teaching! But talking to Colby tonight I found out there was an essay portion that I definitely did not complete when I took it. Did I overlook an entire section? If I did, then I think I did remarkably well, considering. If for some reason we just took different writing tests, I feel like an idiot.

BUT, it’s a great excuse to use this 3-day weekend to explore Mississippi. I’m going to Jackson in a full car tomorrow, we are staying the night in a girl’s apartment and exploring the city. After bonding with a handful of Charlotte CMs tonight (especially Kayla, who made my heart well up as she asked about mama and we both tried not to cry) I feel SO much better. I believe in the amazing character of every person here, sometimes it’s just taxing to have to be proactive, to force myself to interact… but I will keep doing it. I know I am going to develop amazing friendships and a new family with my TFA people, I just have to be patient.

Love love, and happy fourth of July. :)

4 Responses

  1. Jill Turner

    Caroline, it is ok that you missed a day of school. If you are sick and don’t want to be there then you are no good to those kids. They will be able to tell. It is better to see the doctor and miss a day then let it get worse and have to miss several. I had to miss a day during my internship because of strep throat and had to see the doctor and I felt extremely guilty but my mentor was extremely supportive and made me feel better about it.

    As far as lessons not going well…that is going to happen. Always reflect on it and try to figure out what you can do to make that lesson better if you were to teach it again. Even teachers that have been doing this forever have lessons flop.

  2. Cindy

    So glad you made it through the week – I had a harsh and terrible week too, so I sympathize. Wish I could read to you – today I read 5 fun stories for story time, including A Sick Day for Amos McGee – that one really didn’t fit into my theme, yet called to me . . . it must have been the one I read for you!

  3. Sally Korth


    Perhaps it is being around the kids that has exposed you to new bugs/illness that has contributed to you getting sick.
    I wish that I could have been there to offer my support and love.


  4. Auntie Sue

    As Jill said, there will always be days when your plans just don’t work. You just try to make some notes to correct or rethink the plan next time. I still have bad days when both the kids and I bring stuff from home into the classroom. Teachers and nurses are absolutely the most dedicated and crazy humanitarians on the planet. We beat ourselves up with guilt when we take time off. DO NOT EVER FEEL BAD, but do REST AND DRINK PLENTY OF LIQUIDS (juices preferable over beer!).

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