It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything on here. I guess you could say I’ve been in some kind of a rut. I’ve been escaping to cities outside of Chicago ever since the weather has been cold. I’ve been escaping to the suburbs whenever this city stresses me out. However, I realized today that it may not be the city or the weather I’m escaping…I’m more escaping my own feelings of inadequacy and failure. I escape every time there is an arrest, or a worm fight, or an incarcerated parent, or a death in the family, or a drop-out, or a pregnancy, or a mouse attack, or a revised class roster.
I feel like I’m failing my students. I wish I could be a better teacher everyday, yet I spend so much time these days either complaining or making excuses for my failures. Like, “it’s too late in high school to reach every child.” Or, “My school is too much of a mess for me to even think I could find a way to reach my kids.” Or, “there are too many things bringing my kids down, how am I supposed to bring them up?” This battle is one that I continue to fight, but I feel like I have run out of ammunition. How does one bounce back, with drugs, gangs, violence, pregnancy, death standing in the way?
However, I recently have realized two things. Item one, from a fellow TFA teacher: “And yet, at the same time, every time I hear corps members fretting over their teaching, I’m reminded that this same feeling of inadequacy is what pushes us forward, to be better, to be more. We decidedly do not suffer from the complacency disease, which can often constitute a raging epidemic in our school communities. We work and work and work to become better teachers for our students—and throughout every professional development, every exhausting Tuesday evening, every meeting with a program director, every Sunday lesson planning session, this underlying thought pervades: “How can I make my children smarter? How can I make my children smarter?” Because you see, I started out with the wrong question—it’s not about me, it’s about my students—and it’s not about why, but how. How can I make my children smarter? How can we provide them with opportunities? How can we push our students toward significant gains?”
Item two: I called a student’s home today because he hasn’t been in school for the past two weeks. Turns out he’s been taking care of his newly born daughter. He’s 15. But on the phone, he still had the same charismatic voice, the same hope and determination. The last thing he said to me on the phone was, “I’ll be back.”
If he still has hope, so should I. I’ll be back.