Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 14 2011

2011-2012 Starts Tomorrow.

It has actually already started. Tonight, there are 2011 San Antonio TFA corps members in town, to take their (first round of) certification tests (They’re badass, baller, and super-flexible, and they’ll take multiple tests so they can be ready to teach whatever our district needs them to teach).

I’m going to meet them tomorrow. Is it weird that I’m a little nervous? I mean, come on. They’re the babies. They’re the ones who presumably know very little about teaching and even less about the intense journey upon which they’re about to embark. They are the naïve, the starry-eyed, the fresh and new and idealistic. They’re the unscathed and down-to-earth, and they are the ones who are starving for information about what my year has been like.

So why, you ask, do I feel this twinge of intimidation? Why do I feel like I’m the one who’s meeting her future this weekend? Why am I sitting up in bed wondering what I’ll wear tomorrow, running through all the faces I’ve seen on facebook and wondering what it’ll be like to finally meet them?

Well, I’ll tell you why, Batman.

Because they ARE my future. They ARE the ones who know so little about this fight, and so they are the ones who dream the biggest, scariest dreams. They ARE starry-eyed and idealistic—so they are the un-jaded, and it makes them positively Herculean. They are unscathed, but they are unstoppable. These people are the future of my students and my movement and my city, and I have no idea who they are. Which of them will be teaching my very own babies, and how far will they push them? How far will they push themselves? Will we be able to somehow endow this new corps with its own breath, independent of their downtrodden predecessors? How many big dreams will they arm themselves with before they find themselves needing that armour?

A year ago, I was there. One year ago, my head was a-spin with the undefined and the unknown, the countless TFA TBAs and TBDs and we’ll-let-you-knows. I’m intimidated for the same reason I’d be unsure how to approach my own pre-induction self—I know the dream I’m living right now is not the dream they’re dreaming. I’m proud of what I’ve done, but I don’t know if I’ll be proud of it in front of them. Have I done right by next year’s corps, having found my feet as late as I did? Am I an example of What Not to Do? I’ve got the wisdom and the context—but they’ve got higher standards. Think about it: they’re going to meet me fresh off of Ms. Lora’s Story. Ms. Lora’s Story! And me… happy when a kid picks his head up off the desk. I’m afraid to meet them because I’m secretly afraid we’ve bred a little nasty strain of defeatism and mediocrity that will contrast sharply with the 2011’s brightness. … like the way butcher paper on the wall fades without you even realizing.

4 Responses

  1. Ms. D

    How did the meeting go?? I”m curious to know!!

  2. Cameron

    Aw, I wish I would have seen this before arriving! Y’all were the greatest hosts…and quite frankly (as discussed in my reflection of Ms. Lora’s story) I appreciate real because IT IS HOW IT IS. Can’t wait to talk more in SA!

  3. G

    Your experiences…and mine…and those of the other 2010s are the reality of this movement. We are the real Ms. Loras, with our triumphs and failures. The incoming CMs are going to blaze their own trails but our experiences, good and bad, will help illuminate their way.

  4. Ms. Math

    “I’d be unsure how to approach my own pre-induction self—I know the dream I’m living right now is not the dream they’re dreaming. I’m proud of what I’ve done, but I don’t know if I’ll be proud of it in front of them. Have I done right by next year’s corps, having found my feet as late as I did? Am I an example of What Not to Do? I’ve got the wisdom and the context—but they’ve got higher standards. ” I always felt this way as a community leader. What if by being realistic about what a new teacher can do, i extinguished the drive from someone who could have done more than I did? What if I pretend I was awesome by only listing successes and ignoring failures and then they think they are not cut out for TFA when they encounter failure?

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“The minute you think of giving up, think of the reason you held on so long.” - John Maxwell

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