Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 28 2010

“Ah, miss, why you cryin’?”

“Ah, miss, why you cryin’?”   That’s my bass drummer. “Miss, you not crying because the sub, are you?” I’m not sure what that means.

But the intercom was just beeping in at that point. “Did someone buzz from this room?” And my mentor teacher: “Yes, we need a substitute as soon as possible in room 407.” About seven more times of repeating that information in various forms and intensities, and I decide that I should probably remove myself from the situation. Students should probably not see their teacher having a panic attack before the day even starts.

My AP came to the bathroom and tried to understand what was going on—I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t asked straight-up if I wanted to go home. But then she went to my room and got my things, and we walked down to sign out with the clerk. But nope, on the way I’m still breathing more and more, and students are walking by on their way to first period–which you think would stifle it but just made it more escalated and embarrassing. She turned me around and we started heading to the nurse’s office.  … In a wheelchair. Tardy students in the hallway, students crowding the door to the nurse’s office… a whole lot of wide-eyed 10th-grade stares directed at that really young white teacher holding a sweatshirt up to her mouth and looking down. I tried to do Laura’s breathing thing with one nostril. Softspoken school nurse lady made me lie down and eat ice chips to try and get me to breathe through my nose. Then I calmed down a bit, and she graciously started talking a lot about low blood sugar and how that can sometimes trigger panic attacks. Blood sugar. Right. After vitamin water and crackers, and a random conversation about kids with knives and spending money on better calculators instead of more teachers, I needed to be OUT of that building.

Turns out buses actually run on time during the day. Turns out San Antonio is beautiful in September when it’s light out. Huh.

7 Responses

  1. Dear Kool-Aid Drinker,

    I am enjoying the quality of writing in your blog, although I am NOT enjoying the memories of my own first year that these stories bring back. I am a former corps member (Houston, 2002) still teaching nine years later. I am also the author of “See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers,” which is meant to help out the potentially great teachers of the future who are currently having panic attacks in the middle of the school day. The book contains hundreds of stories and tips from teachers around the country, none of which (I promise) are written in the “Well, that would never happen in MY class” format that often pushes teachers just past their breaking point.

    For more information, check out my website, http://www.seemeafterclass.net, and feel free to use the email in the contact section if you have any additional questions.

    Good luck. Enjoy the San Antonio sunlight and the ice chip after-taste, and remember, it gets better.

    Roxanna Elden

    • Wess

      Thank you! Your book sounds like what I read these blogs looking for.

      Most of the time, I do believe it will get better, somehow–I just have to find a way to hang on through this part of it.

  2. Oh, pal. You are NOT alone. I’m working with a group of experienced educators from around the world who are invested in supporting new teachers and you wouldn’t BELIEVE how normal it is to be going through what you are going through… check out my blog @ thenewtag.com – I’ve posted loads of resources there and will add you to my Blogroll under “New Teacher Insights and Experiences”. I’ve asked my Twitter community to check out those blogs and give support to new teachers. You can also check out the new teacher chat on Twitter @ 7pm EST (Maybe 5 or 6pm in Texas?). You need a Twitter account. Then just type #ntchat into the Twitter search box and follow the conversation. If you want to comment, add #ntchat to your comments so people in the chat will see them. You’ll get lots of support and great ideas there. Also, we are planning a free online “Unconference” for new teachers in Dec. Haven’t chosen a date yet but it will be a Saturday. Reach out ANY time. Shoot me a note and I’ll give you my number/AIM/Skype etc. You can do this. You can do this, you can do this, you can do this. And if you are struggling w/feeling embarrassed about what happened, consider this – I once fell off a 3.5 ft stage while addressing 300 students and about 60 staff… and I didn’t die of it. Take a deep breath, laugh about what you can, look the rest in the eye and keep it moving. You can do this, our kids need people who care enough to be willing to really try (and you do, which is the only reason you are getting so upset) and there are plenty of people who are willing to help you learn so that you don’t have to do it all by trial and error. Sorry for the long comment but please don’t despair. You can do this.

    • Oops – Meant to say the New Teacher Chat is on Wednesday nights! Tonight!!!! I’m probably going to miss it (Going to see Sheryl Crow!) but Lisa Dabbs, Twitter name @teachingwthsoul will be moderating.

    • Wess

      I love that: “laugh about what you can, look the rest of it in the eye and keep moving.” That’s perfect.
      Thanks so much for the support! I need every shred of it.

  3. Melody

    Sounds like great ideas/support Wess. Call tomorrow during your free period if you can. Mel

  4. Wess

    Ohh, if only I had one today… but I’ll call you tonight!

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