Middle School Hero

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 30 2013

Aaaaaaand it is over.

That period in the title totally represents how I feel.

Three minutes ago, I just watched my last student walk out of the door for the last time, putting an end to my first year as a teacher. My first year in Oklahoma. My first year in TFA. My first year in the so-called “real world”.

And a simple period is the best I can muster to represent myself with. There’s no excitement or jubilation requiring an exclamation point. There’s no question mark at the end.

Part of it is exhaustion. Not just from this week or this month, but from working for nearly the last year straight. I know that if my dad reads this, he’s going to give me gruff about how he only gets two weeks of vacation every year but I’ve been getting after it, teaching and planning and thinking and caring since June 4, 2012 and it has left me a shell. I’m just not used to putting in those hours for those months. It’s summer but it won’t feel like it until I sleep about 60 consecutive hours.

Part of it is numbness. I can’t believe what’s happened. When I look back at who I was in October, trying to coach two sports along with learning how to teach at a school that was going through tremendous upheavals of its own, I’m amazed that the experience is over. I ate, slept, and breathed teaching. I stayed at school until 8 every night and showed up at 6 every morning and I spent my time at home lesson planning. I can’t even relate to that lifestyle right now.

Part of it is disappointment. I am proud of myself for getting through this year, but I did not do what I wanted to do this year. My MTLD and I sat down and, after looking at the data, decided that my classroom achieved “more than typical” results according to Teach For America’s rubric. While this was light years ahead of what these kids could’ve accomplished if I’d been replaced with a long-term sub, it’s not what I joined TFA to do. Now, I’ve learned a lot about the fact that you can’t save anyone here. You can just do your part. But I’ll also freely admit that there were times that I did not do my part. I slept when I could have pushed harder. I brushed kids off or didn’t hound them enough for their missing work. I took shortcuts in lesson planning. I’m not proud of that.

Part of it is the feeling that there is so much left to do. On the one hand, year one is over and in the books. On the other hand, Induction begins on Tuesday. I’m already brimming with ideas for goals, visions, and texts that will come into play next year. I’ve got eight and a half weeks until the first day of school next year- and that’s without thinking about PD, Induction, or Orientation. So, yeah, this break will be glorious, but it’s also much shorter than I’d like to believe.

And so, here I sit, hovering off the precipice of the year and into my first real summer in 21 months, and all I can muster up is a simple period.

In the days and weeks to come, I’m sure that feeling will change. I’m sure many things will change and when they do, I will write about them. But for now, this is who I am and this is where I’m at.

Enjoy your summer, ya’ll!

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    Chronicling teaching middle school English in OKC


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