Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 03 2012

Vice and failure.

Entering week four there was bound to be a day like this. Where slip-ups become landslides and the way you frame an event pulls tears from some of the most beautiful people you know. There is nothing on earth to parallel witnessing pure human emotion. Times when you can’t look someone in the eye because you are ashamed for the experience you know they had. Times when you watch eyes go big because you hold a seemingly elusive skill. Times when you simultaneously want nothing but and anything but the chance to explain a perspective that will provoke a breakdown.

In TFA, we very not-politically-correct have sometimes called these “Come to Jesus Moments” — large scale epiphanies.

Today I still love my job, but feel like a failure in it. I had to stop and ask my Content Leader, who is an M,TLD (Manager, Teacher Leadership and Development) in his region: “Do you feel personally responsible for all the students your corps members teach? Do you feel personally responsible for their failures?

Today was a day when I wanted to side with good ol’ critical Gary, to say Institute is a mess and teachers aren’t learning to teach and I won’t be surprised when TFA goes up in smoke. Wanted to just sit in my chair and reconsider those whole thing. Wanted to admit that I am in no way prepared to excel at my job and help these genius people get where they need to be by the end of next week.

What a joke.

Once I got over almost crying as I relayed to Mo what happened with a particular student in English 2, I went back in and my struggle bus teacher had the strongest management of anyone I’d seen that day. In a good way. Read: improvement. I got back to my CMA room and we had one of the other ELA content leaders observing today, one who helped us structure an in-the-moment mini lesson planning clinic that deliberately addressed a specific problem she/we saw during the morning. Mo and I facilitated then worked through plans with CMs.

After school I was greeted by perfect hugs from my Dumas family in the cafeteria. I was blessed with lively entertainment by some Institute favorites through dinner. I felt totally supported when I had the two saddest debriefs I’ve had all summer. Then I went for a three mile run in the 95 degree, humidity-crazy, Mississippi evening.

Bottom line is with all these glaring flaws, Teach For America consistently supports me in a way that authentically sets me and those I support for continued success. Could it be bigger? Could it be easier? Could it be more specific? I have no idea. Bottom line is bad days happen. Then they’re over.

And that’s when Tuesday comes in. And then, and then, comes Wednesday. And about Wednesday I have nothing to say but this beautiful quote from the New York Times:

Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.

Work hard, play hard, y’all.

4 Responses

  1. Interesting

    Maybe everyone doesn’t process stuff by “hugging” it out.

  2. You’re awesome! The new CM’s are lucky to have you, so keep on trucking along!

    • We miss you! I heard you got a new fancy job and had the leave the summer job early? Big timer.

Post a comment