This time one year ago, I had already accepted my offer to move to Charlotte and begin teaching with Teach For America. My life was consumed with finishing my college degree on time, working part-time at my university, making my last college memories with friends, and obsessively reading through anything and everything I could find about the TFA first year corps member experience.
Now, one year later, I am a first year teacher only 11 days out from my official “half way through the year” point. Because TeachForUs was such an important and useful resource for me as a prospective CM, I had intentions of starting a blog with this community as a teacher.
I kept waiting for the “right time” to start blogging. I guess I thought something momentous would happen, or I would somehow feel one day that I had earned the right to share my teacher wisdom with the world. This pivotal moment has not come and I’m beginning to understand that it probably will not.
I am beginning to hear of people being accepted into the 2013 corps and I realize that even though I am not yet the teacher I want to be, people are searching to read about the experiences of a first-year 2012 TFA teacher so they can begin the process of anticipating their exciting, yet petrifying soon-to-be realities.
All I can really do is echo what others have said before me. Teaching is really difficult. It’s a job that goes unappreciated a lot of the time. In the moment, it is hard to see that I have made any positive change in my students’ lives. There are days when I am driving home from work at 6:30 p.m. and I am struggling to stay awake in my car. My list of to-dos is never finished, and that is just the reality of my job. Sometimes, my students say hurtful things to me just because they want to and I have to be the “mature (20-something) adult” in the situation.
The more negative aspects of teaching are very easy to pin-point. One thing I have noticed most teachers being very good at is complaining, and I am no exception at times. But there is something that keeps me and others coming back to school every day, and this is much harder for me to put my finger on.
Maybe it’s the boy in my class that behaves only for me. Maybe it’s the kid that came in not speaking a single word of English at the end of last quarter, that can now say a large handful of words and phrases. Maybe it’s the little moments where I see my all of my kids eyes light up with authentic inspiration for the first time in a month.
I know it sounds selfish, and “small picture,” but I teach for my 63 kids and the other kids that have touched my life at my school. I came into TFA with a passionate belief that all children deserve an excellent education. This is undoubtedly a belief I still hold. But I come to my classroom everyday, regardless of how challenging the last day was, because of my 63 students and their precious futures.
To experience compassion in a form as frustrating yet unconditional as this is a privilege that I have been afforded.
This is not work I could possibly endure for two years just for the end goal of a great resume and a different, more prestigious, more highly paid job. This is work I do for the love of kids and for the love of the adults that they will become with assistance from excellent educators and positive role models, which I will continue to strive to be for them every day.