I found my post-Institute reflection from this summer, and reading it again at the end of the year may have helped me to re-focus. I was terrified of starting Teach for America in Chicago and later teaching in Jacksonville, but this is how I felt after I had made it through five weeks of "teacher boot camp". I'd like to share it here for anyone who wants to read it.
I came into Institute practically terrified of…just about everything. Even before being accepted into the corps I had started to hear horror stories of Institute and tireless work, no sleep, and demon children our for blood. I heard that we would cry everyday, and while some said that that was expected and it was OK, others simply quoted “a sad teacher is a bad teacher.” Thank you for preying on my worst fears, I would think. It’s not like my nightmare is being the most ineffective, sad teacher in Chicago and later Jacksonville… No, I am of course supremely confident in my inexperience and lack of teacher skills. Please continue telling me how hard I am about to fall on my face. I was worried, maybe understandably. But then something wonderful happened: Institute started.
I was so consumed with figuring out all the intricacies of living at IIT, navigating the L, making sure I didn't miss my bus (whoops, guess I did a bad job of that one), and trying not to miss all my sessions, that I was surviving Institute, even succeeding in it, simply because I was forced to look at everyday minute by minute, session by session, day by day.
I have had some horrible days here. Days where I bomb my lesson by teaching to the wrong objective or executing bad classroom management or missing my bus or getting my schedule switched at the last second or finally “breaking the seal” and crying at school (and then later into my macaroni and cheese at dinner). Oh, did I mention all of those things happened on the same day? Yep.
Institute tried to break me – but because I had tensed myself for battle, I was ready for it. And despite my penchant for crying when I get frustrated or overwhelmed, I spent all but two days here dry-eyed. I took every day as a new challenge. Each new lesson plan was another chance at inspiring my kids and teaching them something they had been told they “just can’t learn.” I hope that this mindset carries over into my region, because as of right now, it is saving my life.
It has. It did.