The Search for Happiness

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 07 2013

Reaching Out to the 2013 Newbs

Spring Break

Wow, I’ve done a bad job blogging my first year of teaching. I have 5 weeks of school left and I haven’t written a single blog entry all year. I’ve thought about doing it a few times throughout the year, but honestly it always just seemed like ONE MORE THING to pile on my plate, and I never had time to do it… Or when I did, I wanted a break from thinking about teaching.

Last year around this time I was reading TFA blogs and feeling incredibly disheartened and scared. Most of the blogs I ran across were “Why I decided to quit TFA!” or “Why this has been the most miserable experience of my life!” I remember thinking, is that going to be me?! Am I going to hate TFA? Should I even do this?

Well, newbies rejoice, because I am here to tell you that those things did not happen to me, and I have loved my TFA experience so far, and I am super excited about my first summer off and my second year of teaching!

Now – have things been difficult? Yes.
Have there been terrible moments? Yes.
Have I cried? Yes.
Have I failed? Yes.

But those moments, compared to the greater moments of joy, excitement, and love, have been small. Here is a quick synopsis of what has happened:

Last year I drove to Tulsa, Oklahoma from Oregon on my own in my 1990 Volvo 240 with all of my worldly possessions. I made it through Institute much like someone makes it through a tunnel of fire (it was fun! I loved it). I rented my own 2-bedroom house. Didn’t have furniture aside from a bed and a couple of folding chairs for MONTHS, and I STILL have credit card debt (a lot of it) from all of my early expenses.

Early on I made a point of making friends with non-TFA people, which was a fantastic decision for me, and something not many corps members seem to do (my region seems to be like a giant sorority/fraternity). The first week here I met a guy, a mechanic/pilot/musician/DJ, who has been the most supportive and awesome boyfriend and who is now moving in with me (I can finally start paying off that stupid credit card!).

I started out the year strong and confident, but just like everyone else, I started to flag in late October, which my Principal was not at all pleased about. In fact, the worst part of my TFA experience has been my Principal, who has been cruel and mean, tried to put me on a professional development plan, lied about me numerous times, and threatened to fire me. The only times I ever felt like I didn’t want to get out of bed and go to school, it was because I didn’t want to face her or deal with her threats and demands. Luckily, TFA has been by my side through this experience, observing me in the classroom and giving me advice on how to build stronger relationships with coworkers at school.

I initially signed up for TFA thinking I was going to teach high school science. When they accepted me they told me I was going to teach middle school science. At Institute I taught 5th grade. I was then placed as a 1st grade teacher. I was horrified at the idea of teaching 1st graders (not that they’re not the cutest things ever… they are), and when I demanded an explanation from TFA, they moved me to 4th grade. My experience with 4th grade has been awesome, especially because I’ve had the chance to teach ALL subjects, instead of just my strong point, which is science. Plus, my 4th graders tell me all the time how much they love me, how I’m the best teacher in the world, and how I’m beautiful, funny, and smart (aren’t they great?!).

There have been a few times when a good corps member friend of mine and I laid around the house and groaned about how we never wanted to go back to school again (winter break, spring break). But teaching, for me, has been a fantastic experience, and I have never once thought I couldn’t make it through these 2 years, and I have never once considered quitting.

As a first year who is winding down the first year, I am really looking forward to the 2013 corps members headed my way. I am so excited to meet them and offer my “wisdom” and “experience” (lol). Those of you who will do great, YOU WILL DO GREAT! And those of you who won’t, well, you probably won’t make it through Institute.

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    About this Blog

    I'm 25, a biology major, and originally from Portland, Oregon. Now I'm in Tulsa, Oklahoma teaching the 4th grade, which I love.


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