Soft Eyes

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 04 2011

LOL Teaching Is Hard

Lol indeed.

I return to this blog a little sheepishly, given how completely I abandoned it, and since I only have twenty minutes before my third block starts, it won’t be a very impressive return. Nor do I expect to start writing beautiful reflective blog posts any time in the near future, since my work so completely consumes my life that if I do have a few spare moments I typically don’t want to spend them in front of the damn laptop screen again. I want to look at a tree or something.

Given how often I blogged over the summer and how nonexistant my blogging is now, you should have a pretty good idea of how well Institute prepared me for big boy teacher time. By God I find myself MISSING Institute, which I never would have imagined. Love having the husband and cat and car around, but I never had to worry about feeding myself or figuring out what to teach and I got loads more sleep.

If you read this you probably know that I teach high school English, not ESL as I was slated to do–well, when I signed up I thought I was teaching English, so really everything worked out the way it was supposed to. I am one of two 2011 CMs teaching high school English, which is intense. And it’s hard and I cry all the time and I think long and hard about quitting and have never felt so alone in my entire life. I stay up nights feeling really intensely guilty about all the things I lack and how much more my students deserve. I dream every night and all of my dreams are about school and teaching (usually I’m late for something/in the wrong room/naked and trying to find pants/all of the above). I stare at these “professional development” models about the type of teacher I’m supposed to be and am struck speechless by how I am not ANY of those things and can’t imagine how I’m going to get there. I get glared at a lot and cursed at occasionally and basically ignored most of the time. And I laugh a lot. And I get excited a lot. And my kids surprise me a lot. And at least I’m never bored.

There are a lot of 2010s at my school, and they and the rest of the teachers are wonderful. They throw things at me to use in my classroom that are much better than anything I could devise and ask for nothing in return. They constantly assure me that I’m doing a good job, and I don’t believe them most of the time but the kind words help a lot. “It gets better,” everyone says, and they share their stories of horror and redemption and promise there’s an upswing on its way but it really doesn’t FEEL like it’s on its way and I wonder if they remember their first semester the way mothers remember labor- yes it was bad but it’s all foggy and couldn’t really have been THAT bad– until it’s time for kid number two. My fellow 2011s and I act like we are in perpetual mourning; on the rare occasion we meet we greet one another with a gentle touch and “how are you doing” in hushed tones.

None of this is to say that I’m quitting. That’s not how I roll. I have no idea how I’m going to make it through the next two years, or really the next grading period, but I’m in this until they fire me (which some days I think is a pretty likely scenario). Some days I am aghast at the hubris it took for me to say yes to this job and come out here on the other side of the continent from everything and everyone I’ve ever known (save my husband, who is the only reason I am not dead right this minute) and I wonder who that person was. But I am glad to be here.

3 Responses

  1. Lauren

    It’s interesting to read your before and after teaching and how real it followed the excitement of getting placed, the reality setting in, and the hardships of actually teaching. I can relate to so many emotions as I am sure many other teachers can. Find those words of encouragement, supportive people, and strength from why you picked this career in the first place to keep up your motivation. The biggest fear (for me) is failure. I may not get it right the first time, but I will not let myself fail. It’s not an option. There is always relief in accomplishment. Good Luck!

  2. Eric

    I hope you post more as I just appreciate the honesty that goes on inside and outside the classroom!!

  3. Hey, Dani, how did your year work out?

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