Month: July 2015

Failure

Well, friends. I’m well aware that I’ve been pretty MIA for the last….two months. Let me get you updated.

I moved to Washington, D.C. to enter into a teaching fellowship- an alternative certification program through which teaching certification is available to those who pass. I moved down here the last weekend in May and settled down to ride the wave that my summer would become.

I got a serving job, because the fellowship was unpaid. I worked very hard at the serving job to make sure they knew I was worth the scheduling conflicts I had because of the fellowship. It worked. They love me….because I’m a great server.

I began my training… AKA teacher bootcamp. I entered so positive- I was so excited to finally be able to legitimately do what I loved to do! Through reading my posts on here, and through knowing me- y’all know I fucking love to teach. I love kids, I love showing them what opportunities are available to them through education and perseverance. It is 100% most definitely a deep passion of mine.

During this time I also became very close with my housemates and coworkers at Mexican Restaurant! They’re great. I also realized that it was going to be very difficult and taxing to train from 7a-6p everyday and then to work at the restaurant from 6:30 until close two weeknights and work double shifts every Saturday and Sunday for eight weeks. But I was ready.

I wasn’t too excited about the program after a few days…for some reason many of their ideals and standards didn’t quite mesh with me, but I brushed off the feeling because the program was a means to an end, you know? I wanted to teach, this would make that happen.

I met my co-teachers, my team, and my kiddos. And I was in the right place. I was in love. I showed up that Monday of the third week- our first full week of teaching summer school with a happy heart and so many ideas in my head about how I was going to bust ass and kick ass all summer long.

By the third day of that week, I was getting a bit drained. I had worked until close the night before and I woke up at 4:45 AM every day just to get to school on time. But I was hopeful. I was gaining skills in my lesson planning and instruction. We had our first evaluation that Friday and my scores didn’t suck. My housemates celebrated a week of teaching with me by having a 4th of July cookout at our house and a day at the beach. It was great to relax. I was still excited about teaching.

I can’t honestly break down the next events into individual days or weeks. It became a downward spiral/blur really quickly.

I became fed up with our bullshit classes after teaching. I became fed up with feeling as if I was on the outside of an inside joke that I wasn’t worth knowing. I became so incredibly sick of feeling as though if I didn’t meet these 3 points on a rubric that I was a terrible teacher and a terrible person. I was tired. I was tired of busting my ass only to get negative feedback with no plan of action to fix it. I practiced every single day and I got no validation.

I worked so hard to implement every single piece of feedback I was given. I asked questions, I asked for help. I worked 91 hours a week, including my time at the school and the restaurant. I was commuting 13 hours a week. I was sleeping maybe 30 hours a week. That left me with 34 hours a week, the majority of which were spent lesson planning, cooking, eating, and crying. I felt as if I were at the bottom of a deep, spike-lined hole with a rope, but the rope only started halfway up. There was an end in sight, and probably a way to get there- but no help.

I felt helpless, hopeless, and entirely unacknowledged.

I kept showing up for the kids. They were so bright. They were so intense. I taught in Southeast….what is known as probably the most “urban” or “disadvantaged” neighborhood. Basically it was rough, unsafe, and underdeveloped. Walking to and from the metro, I was probably one of maybe 5 white people in a mile radius. I stood out.

My kiddos didn’t have the best home lives. Some showed up without being bathed, some without being fed, etc. My heart broke for them. I showed up to make sure they knew that someone cared for them and had high expectations for them.

My scores got better. My attitude got better.

I got attacked on my way to the metro from school one day- a group of teenagers threw rocks at me, spit on me, tried to pull me to the ground, and claimed “you aren’t welcome here, snowflake.”

I showed up because my kids were worth it.

I kept working at Mexican Restaurant- which took up my entire weekend of potential lesson planning time. I lesson planned on the metro, the bus, at every turn you could see me scripting that shit. My housemates can attest to the fact that I practiced my lessons on them- they hated it.

I got punched by a student. I got bitten by multiple students. I, very literally, got stabbed with a pencil by a student.

I showed up because the four minutes that they sat in their damn seats and fucking listened to me made all of that completely worth it.

I kept practicing. I began to practice more than my lessons. I was practicing my smile, I was acting my attitude. I got really low. Really fast.

I felt alone, useless, and helpless. The program began to make me feel as if it were designed to squash the originality and creativity out of individuals. It began to seem as if they didn’t want us to be us. That was disheartening as fuck.

I began to contemplate stepping in front of the metro every morning.

I began to wonder…. if I could just get shot, or hit by a car, man… I would have a legitimate excuse to not show up and I could get some goddamned sleep. 

I wanted to die. Every. Single. Day. Because I didn’t feel like me.

But I showed up. Because the kids made me forget that. The kids brought me life- through their terrorizing behavior and incredible endurance.

My scores plateaued. Information was withheld from me. I was blatantly ignored.

Today I was informed that I failed the program.

At first I was incredibly upset. I was so sad that I couldn’t just pass the program. I must be a terrible teacher. I obviously will never be able to teach, etc.

And then I became angry. I did everything they asked. They counted arbitrary things against me.

And now, I say fuck it.

I didn’t fail.

Those kids learned this summer. They learned content and character. I did my job.

I learned this summer.

I may have moved to D.C. for this program, but I’m now staying for the relationships I’ve built and for further opportunities. I will not let this wreck me.

I may have failed a rubric, but I really don’t care. I grew a lot from this experience, and I still know that I want to teach. I succeeded in pursuing my passion, and nothing is going to stop me.

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