Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Dorm + Little Sleep + Children on Monday

My life has been so drastically different for the last week, I hardly even know where to start.

I'm living in a dorm with 600 other girls and guys who are all committed to the same cause of equality in education for all children but maybe not of the same background or other values or lifestyle.

I've only gotten about four hours of sleep per night since arriving, which makes it feel like I've been here a month instead of a week.

I'm making lots of friends! Yay! But I also miss my husband so much that it hurts, really hurts, every time I have to hang up the phone.

Earplugs are my new best friend at night, living in this dorm.

I've learned so much about teaching that I seriously think my brain has overloaded a couple of times this week, leaving me unable to function for a good fifteen minutes at a time.

But at the same time, I've learned so much about teaching that I've felt empowered and excited and eager to have my own classroom.

I found out that Teach For America is suddenly super controversial in Minnesota, thus jeopardizing my being able to teach this fall. (If you're a praying person, please pray about this!)

College dining center food... oh how I miss cooking. Looking at all of my favorite food blogs right now makes me sad.

I will have a classroom full of 28 little 2nd graders on Monday. I can't believe it. There is still so so much to do before I'm ready for them. And it's Saturday night. But the funny thing (I'm realizing) about teaching compared to other jobs I've had is that all the work will get done because on Monday morning, it won't be just me and a computer screen. There will be 28 little faces counting on me to be ready to help get them ready for 2nd grade in the fall. That is the most effective motivator I've ever found.

Monday, June 3, 2013


As I sit here at my parents' dining room table, I have a piece of notebook paper next to me and a pen. These two things are meant to keep me from going crazy. As I try to review key chapters and essays before my TFA training starts, my brain is practically frothing with superfulous thoughts. Anything that seems of dire importance I write down on the notebook paper, and then the idea is that I can keep concentrating on the readings. In theory, this is great. In practice, I've had about four different pieces of notebook paper over the past few days and written 'pack jacket!' about six times and 'pajamas' at least three times.

For some reason, packing has been fairly anxiety-ridden for this trip. When I think back to packing for Mozambique, I know I felt pretty anxious as well, but that hair and sleep loss was mainly due to fear over navigating four different airports and how to be prepared for layovers or possible pick-pocketing.

I don't have to fly into four different countries for this trip (sad, but also much simpler), and I don't need to pack a variety of legal documents (definitely a relief). But I do have to be prepared to look teacher-professional five days a week in stifling Oklahoma summer weather. And I do have to pack other teacher items, like notebooks and folders and a printer. And I'll be carpooling with a couple other corps members, so all our stuff needs to fit in the car we take. I know this shouldn't stress me out, but I must confess that it does.

I also think that I don't have the most organized and efficient system for packing. (However, I was mostly packed for this first week in the Twin Cities by 9:30 this morning, and we're not leaving until 3:15, so I guess my system isn't all bad.) This is the fifteen-step system that has resulted in a suitcase packed for this week and a dufflebag partially packed for the next five weeks:

1. Read through the packing list that TFA provides.
2. Start own list on notebook paper, incorporating the things TFA suggests that seem like a good idea.
3. Write a series of question marks behind things not sure about, like what kind of dress shoes to bring.
4. With paper in hand, start a few piles on the extra bed downstairs. Cross off items now present on bed. Then stop, due to heightened stress.
5. Go back a day later and try to remember what's already been packed by looking at list. Try to ascertain whether items are crossed off because they are on the bed or because decided not to take them.
6. Add more items to bed. Circle items on list that haven't been located. Write more question marks behind things uncertain of, like dress shoes.
7. Go back upstairs. Read for a while to relax from stress of packing.
8. Start a second list upstairs of things that may not be on first list (but don't go downstairs to check in case of increased stress.)
9. Morning of. Must get packed today. Take second list downstairs. Put two lists next to each other and see what overlaps.
10. Pack extra pants and shirts, just in case.
11. Grind teeth. Randomly pick a few pairs of dress shoes. Pack tennis shoes too, for running, and sandals, for relaxing. (In case there's time to relax.)
12. Stand in bathroom for full five minutes, making sure nothing is forgotten. Repeat process with bedroom and living room.
13. Double and triple check really important things like medications.
14. Decide to save space and not pack cleaning supplies for apartment.
15. Keep paper nearby for the rest of the day to jot down anything that may or may not already be packed but which excites nervous stomach stress butterflies.

Alright? All packed? OK, I think I'm ready for TFA Induction to start this afternoon!