Miss Bennett in the Bay

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 24 2008

Spring Break Musings

For this first weekend of spring break, Scott and I spent a wonderful three days up in Napa valley. It is truly beautiful there, and it’s one of the best vacations I have ever had. I really needed it.

While having dinner before heading home tonight, I heard Eric Clapton’s “Change the World” on the radio for the first time since I joined TFA. When I made my commitment last April, there was some random Oprah episode on about changing things. Of course, Eric Clapton performed that song live. Of course, I got grand ideas into my head about moving to the Bay Area and affecting huge educational change. (I even went so far as to declare that song as my personal theme song for the next 2 years- something I obviously forgot about.)

Now, almost a year later, I hear that song again. It’s pretty obvious to me that I didn’t change the world. The educational world is still as corrupt as ever and my students are still staring down the barrel of the achievement gap. Even if I do make gains with them, what happens to them next year, and the year after that? And in high school? Unless the entire system is overhauled, the achievement gap will persist.

So, what I realized tonight is that I didn’t change the world. (At least not yet.) What has happened so far is that the world changed me.

This weekend was the first weekend that I spent away from all kinds of work since Christmas break. (I even managed to stop thinking about my students or things about my classroom, which is a huge step.) Coming back to Silicon Valley was like a slap in the face: the stress, the millions of people, the workload- this is not what I wanted my life to be like. Not that I regret my decision; I don’t. I do feel that I am making progress. But even if I wanted to, I would be unable to go back to the way my life was pre-TFA.

There is a TFA recruitment poster floating around somewhere that says, “In 2 years, you won’t recognize yourself.” Try in 6 months. I haven’t quite figured out exactly what is is yet, but some part of me has changed so fundamentally that I don’t know who I am anymore. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I just wasn’t quite prepared for it. Part of it is just the simple fact that I’m an adult now, with everything that entails. But it’s so much more than that. I can’t articulate it in an elegant way. I’m sure I’m experiencing this transformation in a different way than any other corps member, so I can’t even give the ’08s any advice. The only thing I can say is this: prepare yourself for something bigger than yourself.

2 Responses

  1. julieann

    I really like this entry. It’s wonderfully honest and encapsulates the TFA experience beautifully. Reading it made my day.

  2. Ditto. We have those stickers around our house, and while on some days I wish I could be the person I was before this, I can’t imagine being anyplace else. Best of luck with the rest of your year!

    -an ENC ’07

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"All that is gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost." -J. R. R. Tolkien

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