Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 15 2013

When Your Heart Explodes OR Everything and Then More

There is a difference between reading about laughter and doing it.

I am a practical person. I thrive in structure, am honest and blunt to a fault, fill my life with lists and calendars. When we looked at a handout in our last grad seminar, one that had one column for “Manager” and another for “Leader”, I identified quickly and comfortably with the Manager side. Even as we spoke about how idealized, how much we wanted to work for the Leader side… I kept thinking how important those logical components are, and how well suited they are to my personality. I didn’t mind not being  a “Leader” who’s description included a “somewhat mystical intuition”, in fact… I didn’t really want to be that person at all.

I think largely because of this, it’s not often that I laugh.

I’m a happy person. I’m an enthusiastic person. I will quickly, literally, jump up and down and shriek when excited. But laughing, thinking things are genuinely funny and feeling the kind of joy that is lighter than the heart-swelling tear-inducing kind– it’s not that I’m cold-hearted, they’re just somehow not a priority. Haven’t been a priority. I’m too serious. Too busy. I read articles and can spew facts and know the importance of laughter, but in my book that base is covered by genuine smiles and powerful hugs, two things I have zero deficiency for. Love, I have. Laughter I never looked for.

In the past three weeks, that joy has been arriving like the tiny, forceful springs of water that pop up from pinprick holes in a high powered hose. Straight up, silly, harmless, a drink in a desert. There is so much laughter, I am baffled I haven’t had it in so long. I’m left wondering what it is that brings it or makes it go. Has my disposition changed? Have I found people that share a rare sense of humor? Am I slowly inching toward “loosening up”?

Once, in high school, a close friend told me I “suck the fun out of everything” and while it stung enough to stick with me for the past ten years, I never disagreed with it. In fact I capitalized on it, I am sometimes proud of it, I certainly don’t mind it. Maybe a decade of life circumstances made me a little less serious.

Whatever it is, it is heaven. It is a warm bath. It is a comfortable room. It is an exhale.


I started district professional development for The Fourth Year on Monday. We had one day of all-district PD, and have spent the past two on our campuses. Ours has been completely lead by our Principal and Assistant Principal. We’ve been up and moving. We do activities. We talk to each other. We are asked questions and expected to answer. We get breaks when we need them. We are given opportunities to share knowledge.

I am not saying this is the best PD I’ve ever had, but I am saying this is the best PD my school has ever provided. This is entirely rooted in the heart of the dissemination of information: we are told repeatedly we are a family, we are told to get to know each other, we are told to use names, we are laughing. We are laughing together.

My heart is singing.

On Monday, too, I met the girl I will be team teaching with this year. The girl who is my Pathwise mentee. While my first tip off that we would get along was the fact that she put her desks into pods, my second was the second I looked at her.

We could be sisters.

We are sisters.

Sisters in teaching! This girl, coupled with the attitudes present in PD this week, makes me want to stay teaching sixth grade for the rest of eternity. If our team goes as well as we are both planning for and counting on and willing to work for, I will stay. I will have to stay! There is so much opportunity. We are so aligned. I am beside myself with excitement.


Other reasons for an exploding heart:

  1. This text from a student when I asked how his summer is going:
    Good it’s fun i was inspired so much by you i wrote my own book and im getting it published into a hard back book
  2. This text from my college best friend, who was the 2012-13 pen-pal to the student who called me Mom (they still write and occasionally talk on the phone; my friend currently lives in Portland):
    Hey girl do you think the hunger games is at a comfortable reading level for J? I was thinking we could read them together
  3.  The other new sixth grade teacher, who was a huge source for mad amounts of laughter today.
  4. Getting back into a comfortable running schedule, which included a 5 mile run at 6am today (I love being tired at 10pm!!)
  5. My superintendent giving me three direct and monumentally flattering compliments in defending his opinion that I will eventually make a strong administrator. That I 1) have strong content knowledge, 2) am building solid relationships, and 3) [in perfect reference to earlier points] I am blunt. To that last one I said, “Well it’s nice to hear that as a positive every once in a while!”


There are so many things left to write. After a number of recent outside responses to entries, I realized with relatively big surprise that people still read this, and for primarily selfish reasons… that makes me want to keep writing. So to anyone who has personally brought up this blog to me via text, email, phone, comments, or in person: thank you. Seriously.

Happy Thursday!



2 Responses

  1. Wow, Caroline! Your post captures so much of what my colleagues and I try to help schools and systems develop through our trainings. The poser of positive emotions. Awareness of strengths (and their shadow sides). Building strong connections. Spotting what’s going right. So much! Best wishes for the new year.

    Just a suggestion: Based on the reflections in this post, you might enjoy taking the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA) at to see how your personal listing of strengths matches up with your self-awareness.

  2. Lindsey S.

    Yay! I love this post, and I love you, too.

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