Teach Houston

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 11 2013

hangin in there

about to start week 2 of school. I’m exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed, confused, but loving it just the same. I know without a doubt this is what I was meant to be doing, this is where I was meant to be.

I love my school. I love my coworkers. I love our school culture – among teachers, administrators, and students.


I’m exhausted every single day and have started going to bed at 9:30. My work-life balance is essentially zero at this point in time. But I’ve decided to start training for the Austin Half-Marathon…to stay in shape and to be able to do something I’m in complete control over (unlike my teaching life).

I got three calls and eight texts from students today – on my work phone, of course – and I have to say, I’m fairly impressed. Eight-grade Houston Heart would not have been comfortable calling a teacher at all. My kids are showing zest. That’s one of the non-cognitive skills they get feedback on in their Character Report Card every six weeks. Zest, grit, optimism, social intelligence, gratitude, and two other things. I forgot. I love that our school cares about things other than test scores.

We had alumni send-off last week; a bunch of the seniors came by for a little reception before they headed off to college. Various faculty members and administrators gave speeches, words of advice, etc. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house (administrators included). Most of the speakers had a hard time getting through what they wanted to say. I felt incredibly lucky to work in a place where deans and principals and teachers will openly cry in front of students like this, because they are so proud and so hopeful and so invested.


There are things I struggle with, of course. My school has no library (it disbanded two years ago) so I have to get all my books donated from a secondhand bookstore. Or just raid the old class sets that are no longer being used. We don’t have permanent buildings. Our kids have to wait on a deck in the 94-degree Houston mornings. When it rains (as it will this week) it becomes kind of a swamp. We have no gym – but one is under construction right now.

In the midst of it all, we have so much. French, Spanish, lots of AP classes, theatre, dance, special education services that are extraordinarily good, the Character Report Card.

I had dinner with a close non-teacher friend last night, someone who’s known me for almost three years now, and was surprised by how emotional I got while talking about teaching. and I don’t mean crying over my kids (although maybe that’ll happen someday?). I mean crying over how insane my life has become, how much of myself I’m lost but am trying desperately to get back. I know I’ll get there – things are just tough right now. I know that all first-year teachers deal with this, to varying degrees, and that I’ll start to see the light at the end of the tunnel at some point this year. I’m comforted because I know it’ll happen.

The thought of teaching tomorrow makes me want to throw up (out of nerves) and life seems incredibly overwhelming right now, but I know this is the way things are supposed to be.

I have lots of pictures of my classroom, that I sent to my parents and college friends, but there are too many identifying details right now. I have a wall of my favorite books that says “Ms. ___’s favorite books”, for instance. I’ll edit all that out and post it later.


For now, know that I’m hanging in there, I’m tired, I’m happy, I’m feeling okay about things.

3 Responses

  1. Meghank

    Well, someone should be organizing, whether the at the local school board meetings, or the parents of the charter school should be protesting to the administration to get that library started again.

    That is a disgrace. I hope the leaders of your school aren’t making a ton of money while your children are going without a library.

  2. houstonheart

    So I’m really trying to strike a balance between providing enough detail that what I write seems tangible/real, but also protecting the identity of my school and my administration. This is a great question though. Let me just say – it’s not a traditional HISD school.

  3. meghank

    Is this a charter school?

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

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