Now that I’m back from Institute, I’ve been trying to synthesize everything that happened there. I’d be doing a lot better job if I had a spare moment to myself, but I haven’t. Friday night after I got back from Grape Street Elementary for the last time, I packed up all my stuff and moved out of the dorm. I went to LAX and picked up Scott, who flew down to help me drive back (in my sleep-deprived state, there was no way I would have survived the 7 hour drive by myself.) Then, we drove to Riverside, which took forever, and slept in a hotel. The next morning, I had to get up early to take the PRAXIS test to get out of a bunch of my credentialing. It was intense.
Then, Scott drove us back to the Bay. I slept. It was amazing, and I am eternally grateful to him for helping me.
The next day we began Orientation, and that’s what I’m in the midst of right now. I’m finding the Orientation sessions incredibly useful because they’re giving me concrete things for my classroom in the fall. Plus, we end at 3 pm every day so I can actually come back to my apartment and hang out with Scott and organize my life. But more about Orientation later.
Now, I want to talk about what I learned at Institute. Like I said, I haven’t had time to organize this in my head really, but I think I can just write it all down here and that might give you some sense of what Institute was really like.
I have infinitely more patience than I ever thought I did.
I am infinitely stronger than I thought I was.
I can actually function on 5 hours of sleep (but not for long, and it is really awful).
I will never eat another turkey sandwich as long as I live.
I could never live in southern California.
Since I’m living in California, I am glad it is in the Bay Area. It’s truly beautiful here.
I need to be a real hard ass on the first day of school.
I need to plan EVERY SINGLE SECOND of my day, or the kids will break down my plans in half a second.
I need to have time to myself.
I need to have something that reminds me of why I’m here (at KIPP they call it mental Gatorade).
And finally, I learned that I can be a good teacher, and I can make gains with my students. It certainly won’t be easy, but I can do it.
I took a good look at myself in the mirror when I got back to the Bay. This is cliched, but I hardly recognize myself, after only 5 weeks. Besides the broken-out skin and the giant circles under my eyes, I feel completely different. I am no longer a senior at CU-Boulder and the President of the Delta Sigma Chapter of Phi Sigma Pi. Now I am Miss Bennett, second grade teacher. I’m an adult. I have to make decisions that impact other people’s lives. I didn’t expect that transformation to be this fast or this complete. But, I am content with myself and the life I lead.