Middle School Hero

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 14 2012

Welcome to Oklahoma

When the weather changes, it always dredges up memories of the past. The first green day of spring reminds me of playoff soccer, the first cool days of fall brings back high school football tailgates, and that first blistering hot day of summer brings to mind walking across TCU from one cushy campus job to another. These memories are most intense at the very onset of changing seasons and they bring me back to a former time.

Over the last couple of days, Oklahoma City has shifted from a Dali-melted wasteland to fifty different shades of gray as the sun disappeared behind a wall of angry storm clouds that have intermittently dumped buckets on us. To use a cheesy metaphor, that rain has washed away the last three months of TFA and has left me… fresh? Rejuvenated? I’m not really sure of the word (but that’s the beauty of blogging as opposed to writing- I can just say that I don’t know the word instead of having to search and fight for it) although I can say that things are different.

Today, for the first time in months, maybe since the beginning of Institute, I feel like myself. I have memories outside of this TFA adventure and I can remember what makes me, me. And not just as facts, like “I went to TCU” and “I fell really hard for Stephnanie Bentley a long time ago” and “I did Journey of Hope”, but instead I have regained an actual empathy for my past self. I can remember the emotions. I can feel things outside of this TFA paradigm. The rush of memories that these clouds brought, from the car line at Hope Primary School to Thanksgiving soccer practices to torrential TCU football games has brought me back to myself.

I feel like this is my home, and RMS is my school, and this is just the way things are. Teaching here has felt like something outside of myself up until this point, a combination of an insurmountable challenge, a theoretical discourse, a career choice, and the totality of my every waking moment. Even when I’m not teaching, I’m thinking about teaching. Or about my kids. Or about TFA. Or about my friends here. Or about living with Gramps. And I guess what I’m trying to say is that these thoughts, this mindset was foreign. Like Institute was all some crazy summer camp world that we lived in for awhile but then we’d leave to go home where we could play Xbox for the rest of summer. And then when school started, it was the same thing. This was just another experience, another part of life, like being a Lufkin Panther or being Speaker of the House.

But the change is that now, this is my life. Closing the gap isn’t something I do. It’s who I am. And TFA isn’t a line on my resume, it’s the entirety of my life from summer 2012 to summer 2014 (and possibly beyond, the way my love affair with the classroom is escalating). This isn’t a TFA mindset and this isn’t something I learned at Institute. I haven’t talked this over with my MTLD. Because this isn’t about my classroom, this is about my life.

I guess that this is finally “Welcome to Oklahoma.”

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Chronicling teaching middle school English in OKC

High School

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