River Deep, Mountain High

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 05 2011

First Year Flashback: Hit Me With Your Best Shot

I had my worst day of school this year on Thursday, September 1st. Although my day wasn’t completely awful relatively, it was eerily reminiscent of my first few months of teaching last year. I missed morning duty because I was on edge about getting in a car accident on my way to work as I had exactly one year prior, for the 2nd time in seven days. I was really excited for the lesson that day- then my Macbook Pro died during 4th period as I attempted to send lesson plans to my colleague while my students finished their work. I put it on my AC for the rest of the day to cool off (it should be fine after a trip to Jackson on Sunday). Earlier that morning, my AC had me worried because it had been left on over night and I began to see a perfect storm brewing where I would have a repeat of last year where I had to mop up the river of water coming from my AC after it froze over, while dealing with playful students threatening to fall on the puddles in order to sue me and the school. I don’t need all that stress.

Nonetheless, my second year is going well after a month, but I haven’t forgotten the trials of my first year and I truly feel for the first year CMs going through hell at the moment.  I’ve copied below some excerpts from two emails I sent the first time I nearly quit TFA. (Oh, the irony of writing this post as the power at my house got knocked out. So much for being on a Kanye West binge; All of the Lights, indeed.)

8/17/10- In an email to my aunt I said the following: “I think my roommate may have quit and I’m bleeding money. I had to send a $900 check to Delta State the other day. The car’s doing well, though. MS drivers suck and I’m surprised I haven’t been in an accident. I’ve seen plenty. Blinkers are optional.”

8/24/10- One week later, I was rear-ended while stopped at a red light afterschool in between school and the first Parent-Teacher Association meeting: “I was just waiting for the light to change at an intersection and a woman cut it too close moving to the turning lane and smacked her mirror all up the side of my car. We waited 45 minutes for the police officer to show up and 25 minutes for him to retrieve her side mirror and run our license and registrations.” One week later, I still hadn’t received the police report. Fun times.

8/31/10- excerpts from an email entitled “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”:

Sunday: tried to play basketball to destress. The gym wasn’t 100 degrees this time but I was oddly in pain down my right side and had a huge headache…eventually determined it was due to stress…

Monday: took a personal day. Came very close to quitting. Was in pain and had headaches all day, which I spent mopeing around. Fun times.

Tuesday: begrudgingly got up and headed to school for “morning duty” post 1 of 2 for the week. Three minutes from my house I got into accident #2 in the past 7 days. I didn’t call the police immediately because I was A.) shaken up at the impossibility of 2 accidents in 7 days B.) the police took over an hour to do anything last week and STILL haven’t completed the report (I checked last night). I went to Wal-Mart to get my car checked out and seriously considered packing up my bags and going back home. By 10am, I decided to go back into school for the day.

I get home at 4p after talking to my principal and a trip to office depot and slept for two hours. Get up, do my thing, make a Wal-Mart trip and come home to learn that my roommate had a gun discovered in his room today. The kid had bullets “too big” for the gun and apparently brought a gun to his middle school last year…this story is developing.

On a related note. I called three parents on my way to office depot tonight. Call 1 sounded like the kid was impersonating his mother, but I’ll see tomorrow. Call 2 went to yet another phone that is “out of service.” And call 3 was my longest: I talked to an exasperated mother who said that her son has been in 8th grade for three years (he is 17 or is turning 17 soon). She said “it’s time for him to drop out and get a job”. I assured her that if we worked together we could get him doing his work and staying in school but she feels like noone can reach him. I hope she doesn’t pull him out of school…

This is my most negative post so far, but I am grateful my year is going better; however, looking through some of the more intense reflections I wrote around this time last year, I don’t know what kept me going.

I kept going and going...

Still, I look forward to a good September 2011 as I’m reminded of a quote I have in my classroom: “You Can’t Change Your Past, But You Can Change Your Future.” And if it’s time to be, I guess we’ll see. Speaking of which, I’m still waiting on my iPad…

5 Responses

  1. Golden_Apple2012

    Wow, is all I can say of your courage and dedication. I will be teaching next year regardless of acceptance into TFA or not (El Ed major), and I realize if you got through all of this and still are determined to help our children, there are no excuses. Keep the posts coming. <3 them! :)

    • Great to hear your dedication! No excuses is exactly right! We definitely need people of all stripes TFA, Ed majors, etc. to keep on fighting the good fight!

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