The field trip is tomorrow, and despite having taught for one month I feel I am so behind, perpetually behind.
I love that fellow Dumasian and TFA teacher Sarah constantly asks, “Caroline, have you updated your blog?” when we are working together. Searching for an excuse to not do work for five minutes. I like it because she has never commented, and it makes me feel like people are reading without me knowing it, like I have an invisible support system even when I am feeling invisible.
Wordplay, playing with words, it’s hard to think about language without thinking of my kids, now. How can I get them to appreciate the value of intentionally ruining standard word order in a sentence? How can I get them to grow to a point where they cry when they read E. E. Cummings like I sometimes do? How can I help them understand that if they read magazines, books, newspapers and write resumes, stories, poetry– it will help them develop as humas? How?
I think these things but make little effort beyond that, lately. I was sick two weeks ago to the point that, at the end of the day, I told students I had no patience or voice and please be kind to me. No threats, just an explanation of crankiness. I thanked God I already had a test planned for that day.
But the cold lingered. And the farmers kept showering their fields and our town with things I don’t understand that fill the air and my sinuses with things humans probably should not inhale. And the construction outside my doorway now not only increases my volume while teaching but blows bits of dust and concrete and insects into my contacts every time I open my door. And people have started burning their trash, so some nights when I come in from a run I pull of my tank top and realize I reek of smoke. It’s not the same feeling as smelling a hoodie after a bonfire– something that will always remind me of Rachel and fall.
I’ve met 37 of my children’s parents. They came to conferences on Monday and consistently immediately pointed to the “F” on the progress reports they held and said, “this, I’m wondering about this.” It’s a 5-point assignment that also has an “A” next to it for absent. “Your child wasn’t in class to take it.” Now the kids ask me daily if they can re-do their exit slip, now, please, to fix that grade. I should let them, but I don’t have extras printed out and I don’t know exactly which one they missed and I didn’t keep track of it well because I’m still not sure how to organize, well, anything.
At our TFA meeting on Tuesday, called ICE Group as an acroynm I can’t remember (sorry, Sarah), we learned the phases of teaching: Survival, Disillusionment, and Rejuvenation. I am in disillusionment. I’m past the point of just trying to get through the day and now stuck in some sad purgatory where I constantly realize what I am doing wrong and see mountains, mountains that need to be moved before I can see the sun again.
I live in Arkansas. I remember one Monday last year at prayer night in la iglesia when I was new to the group. Really, really new. I didn’t know anyone and Will did prophetic word for me (look it up, those of you who don’t necessarily know or understand the type of Christianity I don’t know how to label but was loosely affiliated with for a year and loosely continue to affiliate with– it’s worth reading about). He told me I can move mountains, with God’s help. He told me other things, too, and I cried and cried.
My sister is finally out of the hospital (she was there for a week) and I finally told my Program Director that I am struggling and need help (a good, good move I’d say) so this is where things start leveling out again. This is where I remove myself from lethargy and remember that the thing I have that is most commented on by others is my enthusiasm. I refuse to forget or lose my personality to frustration. I am here for a reason. I a teacher, and I will keep trying to teach.
(A big THANK YOU to cousin Patricia for donating binders to my classroom, and a big prayer for my mama because Lord do I miss that woman.)