Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 18 2012

Regarding the future.

It’s Wednesday morning. I woke up at 5:18 to step into the slightly-more-brisk-than-yesterday morning air of the Delta, to jolt myself up despite the stars being out.

My morning roommate is gone, interviewing for a Recruitment Manager (TFA) position in Baltimore. Typically we rise together, shuffling around the house to make coffee, smoothies, salad, or bowls of cereal. When we’re stressed out we give each other hugs and remind each other how much better off we are now than we were one year ago exactly. My other two roommates will wake up sometime in the next hour.

I finished what I call “quick notes” for today, which could arguably be called a bare-bones lesson plan, in 15 minutes. Starting early Sunday morning, I’ve been more anxious than I have been (arguably) all year. It’s a struggle to eat (until it’s 11pm and I have three cupcakes sitting in front of me… like last night), I faltered in confidence and execution while my M,TLD observed me yesterday morning, and I’m constantly thinking of my lesson plans. I’ve been crossing off items from last week’s action plan, and they’re still not all crossed off. I’ve been filling in this week and next’s action plan compulsively, as if writing everything down will take some of my desperation, some of my jumpy impulses.

Like I wrote yesterday, once you seem to get one thing down (in teaching or anything else), your periphery opens up and your perspective dramatically changes. Sure, I rarely have students throwing anything or standing up without permission and I absolutely never raise my voice in my classroom anymore… but now that management is easier I see all my gaps in planning. I see more clearly what and why my students are not learning. I get vastly more uncomfortable when I see test scores or apathy in my students.

Tomorrow directly after school I leave for the airport, to arrive at Sacramento at midnight PST, or 3am CST (my time). I’ll wake up to visit the network of schools I have a chance to join, to ask the principal as many questions as humanly possible, and to ask Sacramento if it’s the place I’m meant to be for the next few years. The only thing I need to do to prepare is find my Banana Republic skirt, see if it can pass for clean, write down some questions, and write one sub plan for Friday. Yet, the weight of going to something that could mean so much for my future is pressing my appetite out of my body, is refusing to escape any waking thought, is the first thing I want to talk about but try to bite my tongue about because everyone in Dumas has heard my verbalized-internal-debate at least 800 times.

After school today I have a call with the Achievement First recruiter I’ve been talking with through my application process to talk about my sample lesson plan, which I’ll be executing a week from tomorrow in Hartford, CT. Instead of planning for my class here in the Delta, I spent twice as long as expected writing a 25-minute reading lesson plan for the fifth graders there. In the middle of planning for that lesson, I had my phone interview with the high school principal at MATCH. She asked me what I thought or was worried about if I were to move from sixth grade to ninth, which is the position they’re interviewing me for. Ninth grade comp and speaking: a class adapted from a KIPP school in the Bay area. She asked how I saw Boston fitting into my long-term future plans; would it be sustainable for me years from now? The conversation ended with her saying they don’t have class on Friday, but if we can work out me coming on Wednesday, the day before my CT sample lesson, I can do a sample lesson then.

Which would mean my schedule for the next few days would be: 1 day Delta, 2 days Sacramento, 3 days Delta (one being my first formal observation with my Vice Principal), 1 day Boston, 1 day Connecticut, 1 day Delta, then my first all-day seminar for the grad class at Arkansas Tech, which is in Russelville (sp?), AR, about a 2.5 hour drive from my home. If I can get all the logistics worked out.

I love being busy, I love having a full calendar and meetings, obligations, commitments, accountability. I’m dumbfounded that after being the person most likely to stay in my placement site a third year, I’ve become the CM that has to make a decision for next year first. I love deadlines, but I also like eating and running, and I haven’t been calm enough to do either for almost a month. I compromise by filling pages upon pages in my paper journal with sentences like yesterday, “I’m excited and my heart is happy and full of love and potential. Today will be a great great day and I will come home feeling so much better about everything.”

As a tension-breaker and smile-bringer, I’ll leave you with the note a student in my second period class pressed into my hand then demanded me to read in front of her after school yesterday:

From: B
To: Ms L

Dear, this is B and wanted to know if you would like to go on a date w/ my Boyfriend’s brother? features: short brown hair, 6-pack, skinny, went to Michigan for a year and his name is Dylan. I told him about you and he said ur his… dream girl so I think he’s into you if u want to check yes or no.


B :)


One Response

  1. Shoshana

    Dear Caroline,
    Sending you all my spare energy and health for this next week. Sleep, smile, eat fruits and veggies, enjoy what your doing, take little moments for yourself whenever you can, take a long hot shower at least once a day, laugh, keep us updated!

    I’m so excited for you :)
    ps you’re my dream girl TOO!

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