Soft Eyes

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 03 2011

Making It Real

I have planned for awhile now to start this blog. Teaching will be an adventure, and I want to document it. I want the folks back home to know what I’m up to on the other side of the continent without constant emails. Blogging is a good intellectual practice– and after all, what is my fancy new B.A. good for if not giving me the authority to say things on the Intertubes? There are plenty of good reasons to blog, but now that I’m here blogging I kind of wish that I weren’t, because that means that in a few days (count ‘em three) I’ll be leaving California for a very long time to go be a teacher. It’s a real thing now. And I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a very very scary thing.

I have spent lots of time this week being nervous and excited, but I think most of all I’ve been spending time feeling a little mournful, saying goodbye to the East Bay “Goodnight Moon” style (“Goodnight People’s Park” “Goodnight Bay” “Goodnight Casa Latina and the Happiness Bomb That Is Your Barbacoa Torta”). I’ve been sitting in the apartment that I’ve lived in for two years and feeling like a baby bird who desperately wants to snuggle back into their nest once they’ve seen how far the drop is. It’s a messy, colorful hodgepodge of cheap Ikea, friends’ hand-me-downs, thrift store/Urban Ore finds and a few family heirlooms, and it’s very much home. I watched a lot of TV and read even more books here. Mike and I adopted our first pets together here (RIP Homer Swimpson). After we got married, this is the place we came home to. A whole lotta growing up happened here, and I’m prone to getting a little misty about it, okay? But also stoked. Totally, totally stoked.

My fear for this blog is that it will peter out in that. That seems to happen a lot with other TFA bloggers. You’ll see a post about “YAAAAAY Institute!” and then “OMG First Day of Class!” and then a few weeks later “teaching is hard…” followed by radio silence. I imagine that happens because teaching is, in fact, hard. But I’m still optimistic that I’ll be able to eke out some time for this. I’ve always admired those who blog but never had anything to write about (narcissistic high school Livejournaling aside), and I hope this will be a place where I can reflect a bit about what I’ve gotten myself into.

I’ll also be keeping a Blogger; this here will  pretty much be reprints of what I write for it, but I plan to keep this one strictly teaching, while the other will probably also include lots of pictures of my cat. But it seemed important to have a semi-official TFA blog presence as well, since I’m a team player and all that.

The name for this blog, by the way, is from The Wire, which I finished watching a few weeks ago and kind of changed my life. It comes from the vice-principal’s advice to newly-minted math teacher Mr. Pryzbylewski, that he look upon his students with “soft eyes.” I’m adopting the phrase here so it can serve as a sort of constant admonition that I do the same, and for me it’s also about acknowledging the double-edged sword of my own “softness”: the unique perspective that I know I can bring to my classroom and the larger fight for educational equity, coupled with the fact that I am utterly inexperienced and starting from square one like the dudes at the beginning of Mulan.

So tomorrow I’m going to go buy a suit for my placement interviews, go to my last day of work at YMP (and step foot on the Cal campus for what will probably be the last time until I’m a corny old alum at a homecoming game or something), and hang out with my friends who haven’t left the area yet. Then on Saturday I’m going to spend the day with my parents and wish my mom a happy birthday (yay mom!). And on Sunday, after my husband makes me a steak, I’m getting on a plane and starting a new proverbial chapter of my life in North Carolina. It’s really happening.

Time to get writing.

2 Responses

  1. Paulina

    Good Luck!

  2. Excellent title.

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