Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 09 2010

Returning from the real world to… the real world?

I had decided to hate the word from the first time I heard it in the TFA-context. Rejuvenation. It sounds like a cruel joke, and I didn’t want to be too let down when it didn’t happen to me. I could have scoffed, as if anyone can be rejuvenated after days like this, weeks like this, months like this.

I took four days to remember I have a tangible family, not just a sister that calms me down when I’m feeling blue. Woke up at 3am Wednesday to fly from Little Rock to O’Hare, O’Hare to Laguardia. Spent a day at museums and coffee shops with an aunt, saw friends at an excellent vegetarian restaurant, watched movies and drowned in candy with sister. The food was a major, major highlight for a vegetarian currently living in the rural south– despite paying too much money for it.

Saw Waiting for Superman and left feeling the huge, massive, utterly enormous weight of a national failure of an education system balanced between my tiny shoulderblades. My life felt futile. Beaurocracies, policies, committees, failure, failure, failure. Everyone knows our future is the bottom line. Everyone knows we, as America, are failing them. Continueously and without rational reason. The movie was incredibly biased for sure, but to Teach For America’s advantage. To “my” advantage, though it makes me cower to think that I’m one of those teachers that has the potential to uproot all the traditional, seemingly idiotic mysteries that education. Cower because I am still a phenomenally awful teacher. Tell me I’m wonderful all you want but me and my kids know the truth: I’m terrible.

But that doesn’t keep me from working, thankfully. I read half of Work hard. Be nice. on the flight on the way back. It also made me acutely depressed, a big disappointment considering I was hoping for a rush of inspiration. It’s just not there, not in our system. Good teachers come from excellent mentors, an incredible drive to be a self-starter, and absolute passion for kids. Do I have all these things? I’m trying to figure that out myself.

In my Teach For America interview I explicitly said (and definitely felt) “I want to join Teahc For America because I can.” There was no other real explanation. I know a lot of people, most people, are not in a position where they know they are capable of moving across the country, doing something totally unfamiliar that they are undeniably unprepared for, and enduring for two years. I knew when I applied that I am capable of doing this. Right now I know I am capable of doing this. That is what makes it so grueling. We refuse to quit. I worry that I can be staring failure in the face for two straight years and still not quit, to the sole detriment of my kids. (Sigh.)

Anyway. I do not say any of these things in a melancholy way, just in a wondering way. Today was fine, despite not being able to sleep for fear I would decide to quit today (hah!) or get run over by my kids. Nah, instead I taught my babies proper nouns and common nouns, something they’ve been learning since the third grade.

I decided I can accept Arkansas because my kids are funny and my roommate agreed to not only run with me tonight, but suggest we run 6 miles. Totally unexpected, but my copies for tomorrow are done and I haven’t ran in a week, so I agreed.

There’s no closure for this. It’s only Monday. We all keep going.

Sorry for spelling errors, I no longer have a mac. ;)

2 Responses

  1. Keep it up girl. Anything worthwhile doing isn’t going to be easy. I think you might enjoy this movie and probably allow it to inspire your drive inside you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

    I think the most important thing to me when I was growing up in the teacher to student connection. Create some kind of meaningful connection to each student. The hard thing is that each student requires a different kind of connection, and perhaps great teachers are great because of their years of experience, they can easily read this “connection” with their students are respond to that need, or attention or in some cases, no attention.

    Keep it up, let me know what you think about that little speech film, animation. Much love,

    Rob. :)

  2. Caro

    You are amazing. That video is amazing. I miss you.

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