Miss P.

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 09 2008

I need to get this out of me.

It has been an incredibly long time since my last post. So much has happened that there is no way that I could tell it all. I feel the need to highlight the events and feelings that have taken over my working mind.

The first couple weeks after winter break were filled with anxiety and fear. J didn’t come back till almost the end of January. I was so worried that something horrible had happened to him. Out of all of my students, I envision him as the first to be killed in gang violence or sent to jail. I don’t say that with any prejudice or stereotype attached. I say it because its the truth, the real truth. He is getting himself into things that I couldn’t image a 16 year getting himself into – drugs, gangs, theft, guns, and a possible attempted murder charge. P came back about two weeks after break. I was worried he wouldn’t come back. He was back for a week straight, and I thought that he had changed his ways. I haven’t seen him in a week. D never did come back. Thinking about him makes me cry. His girlfriend’s baby and the need to make money ended his high school career less than 7 months before graduation. If only he could have made it 7 more months. I hope he is at another school so he can earn his diploma. Why don’t these kids see that they will not be able to provide for their families without a diploma?

M had her baby. She is back in school and hopefully on track to graduate this spring. She missed the last three weeks of class for last semester. She should have failed my class because of the absences, but I didn’t fail her. I know that is wrong and probably illegal, but I didn’t have the heart to fail her because she gave birth.

MS dropped out. He wouldn’t do any work in my class. He was a senior who was a couple credits short to graduate.

I got a pet snake for my class. I was so excited to give my students an experience that many never had. Snakes are super cool animals. After about two weeks, a student stole it from its cage. I share my room with another teacher. He was out that day and the substitute apparently didn’t see it happen. I know what class it is though. I felt so betrayed. My students steal things like pens, books, markers, etc. But stealing my pet? That hurt.

I feel that I am getting better as a teacher. I am becoming more efficient and not having to work all night every night. I often feel guilty though. I know I am not doing everything that other TFAers are doing. I’m not tracking mastery, I’m not differentiating, I’m not holding tutor sessions or coaching or supervising a club. I can’t handle all of that responsibility and be a good teacher.

Lately I have been feeling for depressed and angry. It’s showing in my classes. I had to take off work on Thursday because I was afraid that I was going to be horrible to my children or break down and cry. So, instead I stayed home and cried. I feel exhausted all the time. I’m sick again. I love teaching, I really really do. But my children wear me out. Some of them can’t stop talking, stay seated, do their work, listen to anything I say. I really don’t understand that. Some days are more challenging than others. I just wish my students appreciated me more. It’s hard working your ass off everyday and never being recognized for it. I’m not asking for much, all I want is for my students to behave and learn.

I don’t really have any TFA friends besides my coworker and my roommate. I had friends at institute, but not anymore. I guess I just don’t really fit in wih any group or maybe I’m just not fun. I don’t know. I’m lonely tonight. I was lonely last night and I was at a TFA party. I think I need some serious life changes, but I have no time or energy to make that happen.

3 Responses

  1. julieann

    I came across your blog and just wanted to say hang in there from another corps member going through very similar experiences. Believe me, you are FAR from the only person not doing tracking (is there any point this far into the year?), differentiating (I rarely manage modifications even for my Special Ed kids), giving “authentic assessments” or breaking your back supervising a club. It’s tough being told to do impossible things, being underprepared to do it, and then getting no appreciation or recognition day in and day out for what you DO accomplish. I’ve had similar difficulties finding anyone in the TFA corps I can “click” with and being isolated in a new city only makes it worse.

    I wish I could do more except empathize! It sounds like your kids know you care about them, and really, if you can give your kids an hour each day where they know they are safe and cared about and respected…they need education, but maybe they need that just a little bit more. Everything else will fall into place as it comes. Good luck!

  2. Hey, it sounds like you’re in a pretty rough school, I am too. I can’t track or differentiate either- it’s a bit more important to me to keep the kids alive and not pregnant. I also feel like I don’t have many TFA friends. Now, I’m just counting the days until the end of the year..I can’t wait. Have things gotten any better for you?

  3. Jennie

    Yes, Amanda, things have gotten better. I’m still not tracking, but I feel like I am a much better teacher now than I was in the past.

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