Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 21 2012


….is the bleakest of months.


I tried to think of the most dramatic opener I could, and that’s what I came up with. How’d I do?

It’s hard to believe that a mere 20 days ago I was ringing in 2012 at a club in Ann Arbor with my new friend Phil, a 26-year-old unemployed surfer from San Diego who made me strongly consider my life choices thus far (wait, you don’t have a job? Seriously? All you do is surf? Seriously? And here I am working 29 hours a day at a rather thankless job? Seriously? Wait, you’re wearing that ever-questionable quasi-hipster T-shirt and blazer combo? K bye). This morning I woke up thinking I’d lost my precious gradebook forever, spent 2 hours setting up a new one online and then happened to, while sipping my now-cold coffee, look over and SEE IT SITTING THERE ON THE TABLE IN FRONT OF ME. Surfing? PLEASE. This is my life.

I never thought it was possible, but something about the Christmas spirit made my kids even crazier. That, plus the fact that my co-teacher left me (sob) to become the other 9th-grade English teacher, plus the fact that it’s, well, halfway through the year and you would think, you know, that kids would now know how to come in and sit at a desk (LIESSSS) has officially named January the Month That Ms. Y Came the Closest to Seriously Losing Her Mind.


There were (are? Is it February yet?) good parts, of course. My MTLD texted me one night and said my boys were on TV playing basketball. I switched it on and there was T, in all his gangly glory, galloping up and down the court like the crazed antelope he is. He’s been traveling with the team a lot, to Little Rock and New Orleans, but always makes time to run around my classroom dumping hand sanitizer on innocent bystanders, don’t you worry. A few days later, I reaped the first benefit of my new Facebook account, which I made to befriend (ahem stalk) my students when I saw this status: “today my teacher said she luved phoenicks (or wutever) n i thot she sed penis lolololol” (I promptly commented “*phonics.” Call me what you will, but do not call me socially mature.) And later, when I found out two of my students stole tickets off my desk and turned them in for free McDonalds (which, like, is just not cool. Right? That’s mean.) and kind of had a serious talk about how ABSOLUTELY CRUSHED I WAS (I played it up a little, duh), one of them came in the next day, shoved two crushed dollar bills into my hand, gave me a hug and said, “I love you, Ms. Y.” Sigh. Nothin’ like a little guilt-tripping, especially if you get a hug out of it.


But there were lows. By god there were lows. Like soul-crushing, spine-crumpling lows. I made something up recently called the “Silent Seven” (I swear, if I were half as good at teaching as I was at making up little monikers for activities, my kids would be ready for Harvard in the fall) whereupon I force two writing prompts upon my dear scholars and, while they sit in utter silence writing about their feelings on gang violence and justice, sit next to them pretending to respond to the same prompt. Instead, last week during my now-hellish 6th period (WHAT HAPPENED OVER BREAK???), I wrote this:


“This class makes me want to bang my head against a wall. SO loud, obnoxious, hyper, disrespectful. Kicked out today = T, M D. K left randomly. I try so many things->consequences, logic, everything. They sitll talk. Today D made fucking duck noises with her mouth for 20 minutes before I kicked her out which caused her to tear up her bell work. I hate that they don’t give a shit about me or the 100 minutes and shit ton of learning we have to do each day. Because if they could define main idea I’d be fine but they’re falling behind my low class b/c they’re so fucking annoying. They seriously have no idea how much I do for them. Not a single person feels valued ESPECIALLY me even though I’m seriously bending over backwards for them, going to bat, breaking my back, and they’re too busy making noises and throwing water bottles and defacing my carefully”

The timer went off and I put my pen down. I think I was going to say something like “carefully organized classroom” but I stopped short of lying on paper. Then I collected their own writing and tried to pretend I was happy.

That was the worst of the worst, of course. Things came around a few days later. Through conversation with my MTLD and deep self-reflecting (choke) I came to a stunning conclusion: I AM AN INFANT. As in, I need perfectly timed, balanced routines throughout the day in order to not break into tears. As in, by the time 6th period rolls around I haven’t had caffeine in almost eight hours and THAT’S WHY MY 6TH PERIOD SUCKED SO MUCH. Because I was literally on the verge of exhaustion/tears by the time they came in. DUHHHH.

(I had a diet coke the next afternoon. Someone asked “Why you so happy?” I wanted to hug them.)

(Soon after I became happy, they became happy.)

(Soon I was a lot nicer.)

(In turn, so were they.)

(The end of this week made me almost cry with joy.)

(I’m sick of writing in parentheses but I don’t want you, Mom and Dad, to read my frenzied free-write and be like, WELP she’s gone off the deep end. I mean, even though I completely have, I’m not miserable in the least. Maybe I feel the need for this disclaimer because TFA recently accepted its third deadline applicants and the whole “should I or shouldn’t I?” talk has come up with prospective 2012 corps members. The answer is, dear 2012′s,  “You should,” just start taking anxiety pills and get ready for the ride of your life. Okay. Done.)

SO if you’ve just been accepted into the corps and are reading this and are like, “GET ME THE HELL OUTTA HERE” I’m including the following story that might change your mind:

Yesterday morning I stopped at the gas station right next to school. The middle-aged lady at the register eyed my handful of powdered donuts and hot Cheetos and asked if I was buying them for my students. Happy that she was giving me the benefit of the doubt even though, come on, we both know I probably could have eaten all of it myself, I told her I was.

She: “You must be an excellent teacher.”


Me: Aw, thanks!

She: I can tell you really care about those kids.

Me: Oh, I do.

She: You know, I wish we’d had teachers like you when I was in school.


Me: Really?

She: Yeah. Where were y’all?

Me, internally: (stabbing at my heart with an invisible knife)

Me, awkwardly: ….Yeah.

She: Are they good kids?

Me: They’re good kids.

She: Do they have good futures?

Me: God I hope so. Yes. If I have anything to do with it.

She: Well..thanks. Thanks for what you do.

Did you get that???? SHE WAS WORKING IN A GAS STATION AND SHE ASKED WHERE ALL THE GOOD TEACHERS WERE WHEN SHE WAS A KID. She needed a good teacher. And she didn’t get one. And that is SO RIDICULOUSLY HORRIFICALLY MINDFUCKINGLY UNFAIR and I judge anyone who thinks otherwise and AMERICA SUCKSSSSSS. (wow, don’t know where that last part come from. Must be my subconscious responding to Santorum’s win in Iowa, K???)


I’m sorry about that rant. I’m going to my first country concert tonight.

Till next time.





5 Responses

  1. I like this post.

  2. elyseio

    oh my god you are amazing

  3. Kathy

    Keep up the good, hard work you are doing. It may seem thankless now, but years from now, when the kids you are now teaching have grown, you may see that the lives they live are better because you where a huge part of it.

  4. Geli

    You’re an inspiration to me love. Thanks for posting this. Next time we’re together, let’s have teacher talk please. Love you long time

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