Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 10 2011


I am thinking of Sarah, tilting her head and pursing lips, saying, “I can’t describe it. I really can’t. It just gets… better.” and yes, Sarah, you are right.

On Monday I was homesick. I wanted to call my sister, who was unreachable in India. Wanted to be sharing couches with friends and conversation with family and a state with all the people I love. My classes were fine. I had little motivation to plan well for them, but they were fine. And my planning wasn’t horrific. We almost finished a full week of writer’s workshop. Each essay gets closer. I’m grading a whole batch now, only one class left. I want an essay a week from now on.

The girl that tried to get me fired is now in my homeroom, and sweet as pie. She sits in the back corner, quietly asks for help when she needs it, and doesn’t seem interested in anyone or anything. She asked to ¬†be the “lesson manager” for her class job. She made up the idea– it’s the person that is always on track with notes and work, and can help people that get behind. Seriously? I gave it to her.

Yesterday three of us went to Little Rock and worked at the place we always go to. My computer still shuts down an average of once an hour, which was frustrating, but I was fairly productive. I can actually plan, now. Like I’m learning how to semi-productively. I can even kind of a little bit predict what students are going to struggle with and what they’ll breeze through. I’m utilizing songs and chants that they lo-o-ove.

We’re doing persuasive writing right now, which is the second to last unit (INSANE). This month I’m taking a day for professional development to go to a workshop run by the curriculum we use– The Learning Institute. I’m going to another one in February as well. I’m proud because I found both workshops and did what it took to make them happen. I even get to drive a school car the 2 hours it takes to get there. :)

February is also the TFA 20th anniversary summit, which I am anticipating more and more! It’s going to be so amazing to share an event with soooo many incredibly talented, driven, ambitious, successful people. My jaw will be on the floor constantly, I’m sure. Hopefully it will re-light the fire?

Fixing my car came to a grand total of TWO GRAND, and I get to pick it up tomorrow. I’ll be glad to have her back.

I wish I could explain things better… I was talking to an Auntie on the phone today and I hesitated to process then said, “I kind of feel like I’m getting my life back.” My life since my mom died has not seemed normal or altogether comfortable. I feel I’ve been in a chronic state of stress and feeling like everything, everything is surreal.

Part of why I was enthusiastic about moving to the Delta was because I knew that despite the¬†undoubted stress and pressure TFA would put on me, I would have time to think and regain myself. I knew the pace of life in general would be different, time would be different, human expectations would be different. They are. I know that over the next year and a half I will continue to learn and grow so much personally, as well as professionally and as a human…

Don’t think I’m not still a mess, or mostly baffled by my job or life, but I will admit it, Sarah was right. You can’t explain it, things are just better after Christmas break.

(My fingers are crossed and I’m knocking on wood that I’m not speaking too soon– but my gut still says this is right….)

Excellent Anecdote

My kids are graduating from elementary school this year, 2011, so I had them write one thing they’ll never forget and one thing they wish they could forget about elementary school. One student, one who caused massive problems in the beginning of the year, who used to walk out of my class three times a week muttering, “I hate this class!!” who also happens to be hysterical and one of my favorites, wrote as part of his paragraph:

I will remember the teachers mainly Ms. L (me) and Ms. Reading Teacher. Because they always supported me in school. Ms. Reading Teacher was very cool and loved to play around. Ms. L is cool, but outgoing when she is all pumped up on candy and coffee. But they are the best teachers in the sixth grade.”

I could have cried when I read it, if I wasn’t laughing so hard. It’s weird to realize that the students are getting to know me just as I get to know them. It may seem generic for someone to love candy and coffee… but he is always teasing me about my mouth full of sweet teeth. And the fact that he recognizes how much we care about his education is… It’s all about context, but this boy is one that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

4 Responses

  1. Rich

    I love that when reading this I actually feel like I’m sitting at the back of the classroom watching it unfold or seeing it play out in some sort of cinematic glory…

    You are dearly missed my friend :)

  2. Shoshana

    you go girl :) and guess what! it’s going to keep getting better :) i love you!

  3. Thanks for sharing your story. I am applying for TFA, and it is great to read about the experiences of current CMs.

  4. sarah

    told you so :)

    happy semester dos!

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