Teach Houston

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 10 2013

the plans I have for you

In other words…The Night Before Induction.

I fly to Houston tomorrow to pick up my car, move into my room at Rice, get settled, and try and get my life together before Induction begins. As a heads-up, I’m about to head into a communications blackout of sorts – though I’ll try to keep y’all updated on Induction & Institute, I also think it’s really weird to publicly write about things/people while living in such proximity to them, in a boot-camp-like experience. I write this assuming that everyone ever will see it (which is how I make sure I don’t write anything that I wouldn’t be okay with everyone else seeing) and if I was writing stuff about specific people…I don’t know. I guess I’ll just have to play it by ear. But if I don’t write, know that everything’s okay and it’s just that I’m very much “living in the moment.”


And as for right now…I have no words to say what I’m feeling right now. Fear, definitely, mixed with excitement and uncertainty and confusion and concern and fulfillment. All in all, though, I’m so glad I’m going to Induction & Institute. One point of clarification: Induction is before Institute starts, when the Houston Corps will get together at our host site for the summer and get to know each other & the city of Houston. Every region does this by themselves. Following that is Institute, where the Houston Corps will join up with San Antonio, Rio Grande Valley, & Dallas for the five-week-long “boot camp” to teach at summer school and hopefully help us get our lives together. So altogether it’s a six-week process, after which I head right into my district-specific training and then the first week of school. oh man.

But seriously. No matter how much fear and worry I’m dealing with right now, I’m deeply grateful for the chance to do this. Institute and Induction and TFA and all of it, in all its ups and downs and worries and angsts. I made it to the final interview round of a pretty prestigious management consulting firm (and I only say that to illustrate the fact that the idea of working there was super tempting, not to make myself sound good at consulting because god knows I’m not good at stuff like that) and sometimes I imagine an alternate reality where I’d been rejected from TFA and proceeded with the consulting interview instead. I withdrew myself from the interview process less than a week after I got the congratulations email from TFA because I knew my heart/soul could never feel as called to consulting. And what would I be feeling right now if it was the night before my first big consulting project? Fear plus regret. Fear plus doubt. Fear plus ungenuine-ness. And all of those things are a hell of a lot worse than just fear in general.

But Institute still feels really scary right now. I’m worried that all the usual ways I de-stress will be unavailable to me. I worry that my introversion will make things even more exhausting and overwhelming than they would be otherwise. I worry that if I take time to hang out with my non-TFA friends in Houston on the weekends I’ll miss out on Institute bonding experiences or chances to make new friends. The list of worries could go on forever, and so far, I’ve managed to draw comfort from a particular idea. I feel a little uncertain about sharing this because I try to keep religion out of things/not force it onto other people. So if you don’t want to read it please feel free to skip all of this.

One of my favorite quotes is from Jeremiah 29:11, text contained in a letter Jeremiah sent to various priests in exile. Jeremiah (who was a prophet) relayed God’s message, quoting God himself: ” כִּי אָנֹכִי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת-הַמַּחֲשָׁבֹת, מַחְשְׁבוֹת שָׁלוֹם וְלֹא לְרָעָה, לָתֵת לָכֶם אַחֲרִית וְתִקְוָה.” which translates to, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ said the Lord, ‘plans to give you peace and not hurt, plans to give you hope and a future.” Personally I believe that the Bible is metaphorical, that it’s a framework/scaffold for how to lead an ethical & meaningful life, not a literal playbook or directive. But this quote is still nice to think about. And it’s making feel a lot better right now.


I’ve spent the past three days getting ready to leave: figuring out my car insurance, getting renters insurance and working out the financial details with my two roommates, handling things with my storage unit in Houston, doing so much laundry, returning library books, heading to the beach one last time. This afternoon I was hit with a wave of fear/sadness about leaving home (despite the fact that I’ve lived away from home for the past few years) and so I drove everywhere. To my old high school, to synagogue, down the open highway where I used to sing along to the music as I drove home from friends’ houses late at night. To parks and coffeeshops. Down quiet country roads and winding wooded streets, as I soaked up the memories of a place I’ve known for so long. Leaving here to go to college felt somehow temporary – fleeting, even. But leaving home to move away, to work, to spend my life for the foreseeable future feels achingly permanent. The sun was finally out, for the first time in over two weeks, and as it shone down & glinted off the tears dotting my lap I treasured the opportunity for such a perfect last ride.


I know it’s normal to feel this way, so normal that Taylor Swift has even written a song about it. And I know that I’ll have lots of support from my fellow corps members, from my Corps Member Advisor, from my awesome Transition Team Leader (shoutout to this amazing person who has already made me feel so welcome via calls/texts), from the many people who are at Institute purely to help my colleagues and I learn how to be teachers & leaders. But I promised myself before all of this started that I would just feel my feelings without trying to run away from them. So that’s what I’m doing.

And on that note, I’ll sign off. I’m eager to greet the new experiences that lie ahead of me, and I hope for the strength to handle these changes gracefully.

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    Journeys, challenges, & writings of a first-year teacher.

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