Stir Up the World

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 07 2011

BOSU balls and mattresses

Moving across the country to a place you’ve never been before, starting a job you’ve never done before, and living in a community where you don’t know anybody is a bit like standing on a BOSU exercise ball.  Since the photo uploader thingy isn’t working, all I can do is describe what a BOSU ball looks like.  Or you can google “BOSU ball” and see for yourself. Your choice.  A BOSU ball is basically an exercise ball cut in half, with a plastic base.  So you can stand on it, sit on it, whatever.

The idea behind the BOSU ball is that it creates an unstable surface, and exercising on that unstable surface makes the exercise that much harder and in turn makes your muscles that much stronger.  This TFA experience has been like standing on a BOSU ball:  it’s unstable and difficult but it will make me stronger.  Teaching in this new, completely different environment will make me a stronger teacher, I think.

I was an English major.  I deal in metaphors.  I can’t help myself :).

Now that I’m getting settled in to my town, TFA is seeming more and more invasive. My district and community have been SO incredibly supportive that all of the hoops I have to jump through for TFA during the school year seem annoying, not helpful.  We have ICE group meetings on Tuesday nights here in t0wn, and “Pro-Sat”s (professional development Saturdays) once a month at Delta State, 2 hours away.

Personally, I’d rather spend my Tuesday nights getting to know people in the community and doing WORK.  And I’m going to be fussy about losing a Saturday every month.  Also, I’m STILL sleep-deprived from Institute, 3 weeks later.  That’s not good, TFA.  I’ve been working really hard in the last 3 weeks, I know, but it’s still really hard to get out of bed in the morning, and I feel like I could sleep in till noon every day.  If you know me, you know how insane that is; normally for me, sleeping in till 8 is outrageous.

TFA got me here; I need to be grateful. TFA got me here; I need to be grateful. TFA got me here; I need to be grateful. TFA got me here; I need to be grateful.

I keep repeating that to myself.

Also, I knew this whole thing would be expensive, but not THIS expensive.  I’m not fond of credit card debt, and I’m going into debt because I don’t get paid till the end of September. I had $5,000 when I left California, plus $1800 in transitional loans. Now I have enough left to cover my bills for August and September, but not much more.  So anything extra like food and clothing is going on the credit cards. It’s stressful and I don’t like it, but I know it’s part of the deal.

On the bright side, I now have a bed frame AND mattress AND box spring!  Beds are expensive, but this was one non-negotiable for me before school starts.  With our living room furniture, our house is really starting to feel like home.  As soon as we get an air conditioner for our living room, things will be much better.

I’m starting to feel much better about the school year starting.  By “much better”, I mean not completely panicked.  It’s more like numb.  I’m not sure exactly how I’m supposed to be feeling right now, or how much I should have finished for the school year.

Very few things are comfortable or familiar right now, and I miss that.  I guess that’s part of starting any new job, but I miss feeling like I know what I’m doing.  I don’t.  At least I know that I don’t have a clue, though; as I’ve said before, one of the dangers of TFA is that it makes you feel overconfident going in to the school year and then you get clobbered.  I don’t feel overconfident, or even confident.  I think that I’m as well-prepared as I can be given my situation, and I have to take comfort in that.

My classroom is really coming along.  I have a friend from home who happens to be a teacher visiting me right now, and she did my bulletin boards for me and helped me make decisions about furniture placement, etc.  I still have to clean and arrange the desks, organize my desk, and laminate/put up my posters, but my classroom looks much better than it did a week ago.

My school is switching to block schedule this year, and I have a general idea of how that will work, but I don’t know how many classes I’ll have or how many students will be in those classes.  I have new teacher orientation tomorrow and district training all this week, so I’m sure I’ll find all that out.  I just don’t want to somehow miss information that everyone else has.

I’m sure I’ll have more to write after I have some of my district training and have some substantial information about what my school year will look like.  And when it cools off, I’ll hopefully have more brainpower.  It’s been between 103 and 113 degrees every day this last week, and when it’s this hot I’m not pithy or clever.

That’s all for now.  Off to church!

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    rural Arkansas, eh?

    Mississippi Delta
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    "If one desires to 'stir up the world,' it is easy to be impatient with work for the sake of work. Yet no story's end can forsake its beginning and its middle." -Joshua Wolf Shank on Abraham Lincoln