Teach Houston

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 21 2013

I have been a teacher for six weeks.

I have been a teacher for six weeks and there are millions and millions of things I don’t know how to do, be, say, or teach. The immensity of what I still have yet to figure out seems to stretch on forever, and in its shadow, I feel like I’ll forever stay.


We had Professional Development today (six hours of it, once per month until the end of the year) and though some parts of it were useful, other parts just felt like they were just one more meeting I had to sit through. Maybe this is what my kids feel like when they come see me at 3:15 having been forced to sit still since 8:00 AM. It’s been gray and rainy for about 48 hours straight. That, combined with the PD and the exhaustion of this week and all the other things, has really been dragging me down today. Weekends are rough because the weeks are so long and I feel so much pressure to just completely relax/have fun on weekends. And yet there’s always that pressure to work, to get ahead, to not feel so chaotic and all-over-the-place for when the week beyonds.

And then the cycle starts anew.

That part’s hard too. The monotony. The rhythm. I’ve always been someone who values – even craves – stability, yet the pattern of my days and weeks has started to sink deep into my skin. I leave home at the same time every day, come home at the same time every day, leave my laptop and my lunchbox and my shoes in the exact same places every day. I anxiously do work and then go to bed at the same time each evening and on the weekends, I spend my Saturdays the same way and my Sundays the same way as I do all the other weekends. Another TFA friend and I talked about it at this morning’s PD. In college, we were constantly stimulated – intellectually, socially, academically. And though I’m still stretched and pushed, it’s all in the same area of my brain these days. There are other parts that I’ve just left to lie fallow for now. Maybe I’ll pick them up later, but for now, that’s how things are.


My TFA roommate and I went on a spontaneous beach/road trip this evening, just to break up the monotony. It was wonderful. I’m meeting with my teaching mentor tomorrow, then I’m headed to buy a new bookshelf for my classroom! The first set of DonorsChoose books came in on Friday afternoon, right after the kids left.

I can’t really deliver content or key points.
I can’t really check for understanding.
I can’t really monitor behavior the way I need to.

But I can buy books for my kids, and prod and urge and push them, until they love to read the way I do.


We’re already getting there. On Monday I start coffee chats with my students during Independent Reading time. I’ll provide tea & hot chocolate for one-on-one conferences so they can tell me about their books, the way actual adults do during book club meetings.

October (of infamous teacher lore) is hurtling its way closer and closer, so as I wait for it to wash over me, I’ll just bask in these little victories and know that at its heart life is good.

4 Responses

  1. Mathlove

    I started my 4th year of teaching. Teaching is a practice you always develop and add new things to your repertoire. I never felt competent my first year, but as time goes along you will get better. You will teach your kids more than you can imagine. Around April you can start having a life outside of teaching. You can make it!

  2. houstonheart

    haha thank you for the feedback! Credit for the idea goes to my MTLD; she’s amazing.

    I have a mini hot water heater thing in my classroom. And, we’re doing rotating signups – I get to three kids per day and so the other ones know their turn will come soon :)

  3. Meghank

    That is such a cute idea about the coffee chats! How do you keep the tea hot? And if you can’t get to everyone in a single day, won’t the other kids be jealous that they didn’t get any tea? Maybe that’s more of an elementary school problem…

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

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