Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 28 2013

Quarter-Life Crisis

This might be real close to the longest I’ve gone without an update.

On Sunday I’m boarding an airplane and flying to San Antonio with some of my favorite TFA ladies to attend a LEAD21 conference in San Antonio. We’re the founding females for Arkansas Tech’s “Walton Scholars” program which recruits Arkansas TFA corps members to start grad school to develop into school leaders.

I’m ready to GO.

***

The last two weeks have been my most negative of the year. I have been seriously considering quitting my school, my job, and feeling like the decision to stay in this state three more years was a bad one. Operative words being feeling like and not knowing, because I know I made a good choice and I know I’m doing a good thing for myself… but I’ve really been on edge lately.

I have high expectations for life. For my job, for my happiness, for my surroundings. I expect, at the least, to be supported and recognized as a human. Most days I don’t feel like this is happening professionally. I don’t care if I’m a “Teach America” or if I’m 25 or if I’m significantly more radical than most people in my town… I am a human! I am a teacher! I am someone who to my core cares about the well being and happiness of other people, and while I try to plant my humility seed very very deep in my heart and the very core of my being, I feel that there comes a point where you quit biting til blood and you start to talk. Weather people want to hear it or not, you talk.

I’m at a point where I’d like to start talking. The newest hurdle is how and to whom do I talk? How can I express the rampant unprofessionalism, the detrimental negativity, the lack of planning that has been destroying my (and many other teachers’) mood on a daily basis, without sounding like a tiny kid throwing a tantrum?

I want to stay because I love my kids, and because I believe in the absolute necessity of education. I want to stay because the levee and the fields and the curvy drives to Monticello still steal my breath daily. I want to stay because the pee-wee basketball game is a 5 minute walk from my house, because I sometimes have 45 minute conversations in Piggly Wiggly, because I love stories about the hoodnic, because my pen-pals from this year are already just as invested in my next year kids as I am. I want to stay because my classroom is full of things I’ve acquired for these kids. Because my curriculum, thought process, and comfort in my job is here in this district.

But I can’t stay and pretend to be blind. I can’t stay and pretend the adults running my job are deaf, or have more important things to do than address the fact that our students aren’t getting what they need.

So with this decision made, what comes next?

  • A start-up non-profit that targets needs I think I’ve found?
  • An after school program for “at risk” students that’s independently run?
  • A transfer to a different school in my district?
  • One more year ending with a mouth of blood from biting my tongue and a masters degree?
  • A dramatic flee? To the sarcastically put “haven” of Little Rock?
  • A few applications to the districts I have friends in where people are happy where they work?

What now?

I know I will move forward. I know I can move forward. But I don’t know how!

Added to the list of much needed additions to TFA: mentors. Since I’ve graduated college I have been craving a professional mentor. Someone to be candid with, who understands at least a little what my professional life is like, who can imbue seasoned wisdom without squashing young fire. I have drive. I have motivation. I have an overwhelming love for people, both other students and my neighbor faculty members. But what can I do?!

NOTE: Almost exactly a year ago I was feeling almost the exact same way. I don’t know if that makes me feel better or worse.

2 Responses

  1. Wess

    San Antonio will fix everything! Always does!

    … heh heh.

  2. Kayla

    Caroline,

    I have been feeling the exact same way as you! It’s bothering me so much that I’m a 2nd year and feeling the way I am right now. However, unlike you, I know I’m not staying after this year. I do hope to stay in education but not teaching elementary, but rather broadcast (which is a tough area to find). But regardless, I hate feeling like I’m counting down the days to be done. I don’t wanna feel like that. But for whatever reason, it’s how it is right now.

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