Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 27 2012

Synthesized reading [blogs] for “pleasure”.

Considering I just spent literally two and a half hours reading education blogs, I figure I may as well just top it off with a post. I can’t gauge how embarrassing it is that I’ve been updating, on average, three times a week for the past three months. I was feeling pretty good about my slow pace of life until I read Wess’s most recent entry about all the batshhhcrazy things she’s been doing lately. Where are my accomplishments? A run on the levy and a talent show? Where’s my greater impact? Is Ms. Katie right in pointing fingers at us elitist TFA-ers? What do we know about our communities, about what we need here, about our veteran teachers?

Lately I’ve been upset at my disconnect with the community. I don’t like teaching for a year and a half and still not knowing my co-workers. I want monthly sixth grade teacher dinners, I want an after school program that does something for our kids, I want community service that genuinely partners with the community, or that exists at all. I want a Boys and Girls Club. I want a mentoring program. I want students with confidence and positive role models and an understanding that the world is awesome.

However, shall we recall, I am human. I am human? How awful am I for prioritizing closer relationships with a small handful of girls I met 18 months ago and share more similar backgrounds with over veteran teachers? How awful am I for prioritizing a talent show suggested and pressured by students (repeatedly) over academic intervention after school? How awful am I for putting so much time into Brax, an outburst-prone failing student in my homeroom, over Destiny or my student recently assigned to ALE (Alternative Learning Environment… read: never to be seen again in the depths of “alternative education”) or my other 60%-and-below students? How awful am I for looking into other jobs? For looking outside of education? For reading short stories instead of curriculum? Reading blogs instead of grading?

Balance, right? But what is it, exactly, that I want? Recognition for being a prolific Teach For Us blogger, or for starting up a concrete program in Dumas that will outlast me (still waiting on that one)? Don’t give me a feasibility lecture, because I know what is feasible: anything. It’s me that’s not putting in the work, it’s me that’s not creating something.

There is this insanely fine line between feeling like I can do anything, I should do everything, I am here to do as much as possible …and feeling like I have absolutely no right to step in this territory. Reading anti-TFA posts (see third link in this post) sinks me, sometimes, because I don’t know my ratio of pro-to-anti-TFA. Clearly I’m tipped on the pro side, but– but who can be decisive about anything?

I find solace in an email from auntie:

The nature of being your age is one of not “feeling grounded”. ┬áStill so much of life is a negotiation between what you have the energy/drive/ability to do and what your expectations are of how your life would unfold.

Constantly torn between knowing I “don’t have to decide” and feeling like deciding is the only way to get anywhere. Time is sand, people, straight up pouring through my fingers. What do I want to do? Where do I want to be? Where am I at my optimum? Good God, what am I talking about?

In an effort to derail myself, job update:

Achievement First in Hartford decided not to hire me, primarily on the grounds that they were looking for someone that wanted to build “more of a foundation in Connecticut”. I’m relieved they saw it in me before I tried to fake my excitement about going to such a place. Turns out, though, the principal liked me enough to refer me to another principal in the network. I can’t tell if this is flattering or standard AF practice. Either way, they are flying me out to CT for the third time to interview for the second time, now in Bridgeport. Nice that it’s the biggest city in the state and only 1.5 hours from NYC. Not so nice that it complicates my decision making process for next year prospects.

Successfully did nothing productive in the past three hours. Shower and goodnight.

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