I grew up on TeachForUs. I remember spending entire nights reading through it back in 2008, when I was a junior in high school. The idea of applying to TFA flitted in and out of my life with the contours of my college trajectory. In a moment of fear, I told myself I would never apply, convinced I couldn’t manage life in the “real world” much less the idea of being responsible for students’ academic paths. In brighter moments, I was so convinced this was my calling, and couldn’t wait to start working on my application.
I’ve kept my own personal blog for about three years now. I started it because I was afraid of forgetting – people, places, ideas. College is a time of lightyears’ worth of change and I didn’t want to ever forget how that beautiful (and sometimes scary) process actually happened. It’s been incredible to go back and read my own words…though they sometimes don’t even sound like my own; rather, the words of a girl far removed from the person I am today. But at the crux of it, that’s why I blog, and that’s a part of why I’m blogging here. I know I’m about to leap headfirst into a journey which will quite likely define everything about the way I view the world around me. And I don’t want to lose a bit of it. I want to hold on, grasp it tightly, breathe it all in as the world explodes in fluttering wisps.
The other reason I’m blogging is for you. Yes, you. The TFA critic. The aspiring Corps Member. The curious uncle. Every single one of you. I don’t profess to have a “typical” TFA experience (I’m not sure there’s even such thing as a typical experience!) but all I can give you is me. Just me. The twists, the turns, the rivers, the roads that make up my path to becoming a teacher. Why? Because people did this for me. And I believe in paying it forward. I could even name the blogs which influenced me the most – Caroline, Gary Rubenstein, MathinAZ, Ms. B. - and all I can do is hope I will be a fraction as insightful, as well-written, as inspirational as these authors.
I have wanted to be a Corps Member for about four years now, and I’ve wanted this more than I’ve wanted anything. I don’t say that hyperbolically. Sure, I applied to my fair share of positions and internships throughout college, but nothing compares to the depth of how badly I wanted to be able to be here, blogging like this, able to call myself a 2013 CM. Sometimes I think it’s all a dream – a mistake, even – and yet other times I can breathe a little deeper or relax a bit knowing I’m chasing the dream I’ve wanted for so long, and it’s finally becoming a reality.
I’m a big fan of goal-setting. I suppose I’ll do a lot of it in the coming months and years, through my involvement with TFA, but here are some personal goals I have for this blog:
1) Keep it real. Yes. Completely genuine, completely me. I will choose my words carefully but will not censor myself. Life is beautiful and messy and sparkly and tarnished and all those other things in between. But at the heart of it, it’s always real.
2) Keep it relevant. I think my personal life has a place in all of this – a place, sure, but not too much of a place. I’ll keep it TFA-focused to the best I can. I know my TFA life and personal life will meld together (at some points, probably too much) but this is TeachForUs and this blog will be about TFA.
3) Keep it open. Criticism and feedback are crucial. I can’t imagine my life (or personal growth) without them. So I welcome all of it. Delivered respectfully.
4) Keep it safe. No real names (mine or any of the people in my life). Anyone can write their opinion. Anyone can see it.
I was a Sociology major in college, and I’ve always been incredibly fascinated in what makes people tick. Why are people the way they are? Why do they care about their passions? How did they discover their passions? When I read these blogs, I always wondered about the authors behind them. I sifted through their words, trying to peek a glimpse at a life story or two. I felt like the depth was always lurking in the spaces – the pauses – the side stories which made everything come to life.
Here’s some basic info about me. The stuff that’s affected my worldview, shaped my life experience, tinted the way I experience the joys and heartbreaks of life.
I’m white. I’m female. I was born into an intellectual, slightly nerdy, middle-class family. I do not come from great wealth. Nor do I come from great poverty. I’m a small-town girl at heart and spent most of my life in a retirement town in Florida. I tend to look kindly upon charter schools (I graduated from a magnet-type program and have volunteered at a KIPP high school for about three years) but am eager to see how my view evolves throughout the coming years. I have two sisters and I love them fiercely. My parents are my heroes but do not understand, or 100% support, my decision to join TFA. I still don’t know how to handle their disappointment. I’m more religious than anyone in my family. I’m liberal. I’m open-minded. I cry at everything – especially inspirational sports movies – and am glued to the TV for three weeks at a time during the Olympics. I’m an introvert. I have a few deeply close friends who I would trust with my life. I read social science books for fun. For a long time, I was planning to go into academia and still harbor wisps of my love for journal articles and the idea of pursuing a PhD. My most important and influential mentors have all been female. I care entirely too much about what other people think of me. I’m worried I’ll be too caught up on being liked by my students. I know a good teacher when I see one but cannot, for the life of me, imagine me being able to be that kind of teacher for my future students. I attended an excellent university, thanks to a scholarship that opened so many doors for me. I’m scared the best years of my life were in college. I’m scared of the real world. I’m learning what it means to make faith bigger than fear.
So here we go. I’m excited to bring y’all along for this ride. Thanks for joining me.