Miss Bennett in the Bay

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 23 2007

World, Are You There?

Last night I had a dream that kind of served as a reality check for me. It was really quite strange, but the gist is that Scott and I ran into some random people wearing Phi Sigma Pi (our honors fraternity) shirts in the mall. I ran over to them and started talking to them and they said they were from a Pennsylvania chapter. I asked them what brought them to the Bay Area, and they said that Grand Chapter was being held in San Jose. After leaving them, I realized that that meant that there were at least 2 Brothers from my chapter who were in my city who had never bothered to email me or call me.

After I woke up, I realized that what is really going on here is that I have completely lost touch with reality and my former life.

The weather in San Jose this weekend has been cloudy and cool, which in Boulder meant a sure sign that fall was coming. On Friday night we had this awesome thunderstorm with huge lightning bolts across the sky that reminded me of home. Yesterday I was finally able to go through some of the books for my classroom library, and I came across The Wind in the Willows, which my dad used to read out loud to me before I went to sleep. All of these things plus my dream have led me to one conclusion: I am homesick.

I’ve never really been homesick before, but then again, I’ve never been that far away from home for any extended period of time. This feeling is exacerbated by the fact that I’m working 10-12 hour days every single day. Today will be the first day that I truly have to do nothing school related since this journey began in May. And I probably will still end up doing school stuff just to try to get ahead for the week.

I know that I should be Working Relentlessly to help these kids make big gains. And I think I really am. The fact that I’ve lost touch with pretty much everyone (including Scott, and I live with him) should tell me as much. But the fact of the matter is that already, after only four weeks, I look in the mirror and don’t recognize myself. I have perpetually dark circles under my eyes. I’ve lost some weight, so my cheeks are thinner. My skin is finally starting to recover from Institute, but it’s kind of dry all the time. I’m always wearing business casual clothing, and my wardrobe from college has been completely cleaned out. And instead of carrying around psychology books, I’m carrying around 50 pounds of random teaching supplies.

I think what I’m really trying to say is that I’m generally unhappy right now. As I’ve mentioned, my students are out of control most of the time, which makes me exhausted, and then I’m so anxious about the fact that I can’t control them enough to teach them anything that I can’t sleep. The result is that the next day I’m so tired I can’t control my students. It’s a vicious cycle that I can’t break and I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to Plan so Purposefully that my week cannot possibly go badly. We shall see.

I have decided that I am coming home for Thanksgiving. We get Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off that week, so I could fly home on Tuesday night and fly back Saturday night or Sunday morning and still have enough time to see everyone and relax. Ok. Big, deep breath. I just have to survive until the fourth week in November and then I can have a break.

7 Responses

  1. ashlee

    I’m counting down to Thanksgiving too. Not recognizing what oneself is awful, I didn’t move to come to TFA, I stayed in my same house, and I have lost contact with everyone and look in the mirror and see a totally different person. I keep thinking, how on earth am I going to do this for two years, especially when surviving the next 8 weeks seems almost impossible. Good luck, it’ll get better (it has too).

  2. RayAnne

    Awww. I wish I could send you a care package filled with Colorado. Homesickness sucks. On the other hand, it’s nice to know that you do have a place to come back to with people who care a whole lot about you.

    There needs to also be a word for past-sickness. I miss the way Phi Sigma Pi was last year. I had so much fun with you. Things change and people leave and it makes you wish things could go back to the way they were.

    On a happier note, I am really excited that you are coming back for Thanksgiving! I am doing everything in my power to be in Colorado on those days. Perhaps we can have craft time to make something cool for your classroom. It will be really good to see you.

  3. RayAnne: There is such a word: nostalgia. And I’m nostalgic for PSP, too.

    Chris: Hang in there! And don’t let me forget that you’re coming in for Thanksgiving; we definitely need to get together.

  4. Tired teachers at Joanne Jacobs linked to this post.
  5. Just hang in there. There’s a reason why the first year is tough.

    You have to also keep in mind that the first year is when you do get the sickest from your exposure to kids. I recommend high doses of Vitamin C (my special ed cohort was particularly fond of Emergen-C) to keep you going.

    You’re going through typical first year stuff. You’ll survive.


  6. Hang in there..it will get better.

    Look for, and take strength from, small victories.

    Make time for yourself. Learn to triage. Not everything needs to be graded.

    The first year is usually the hardest.

  7. Allison

    —I know that I should be Working Relentlessly to help these kids make big gains.

    How can you know something that’s false?

    No, you shouldn’t be. No, you shouldn’t be. Stop telling yourself this lie and the rest of your misery will start to subside. You may then find out how to survive this career choice, or what else to do with your life. But start by no longer lying to yourself.

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