I chuckled as I made the corny headliner of this page. Calling myself “Ms.A” in my head is still strange. Just 3 months till institute. Sometimes I still can’t believe its going to happen- that I’m going to be thousands of miles away from my home(s), teaching my own classroom of students, truly on my own in a time when I might be needing the most support ever.
I’m scared. More and more scared as I get more experience teaching in the Oakland school I work in now. I lead a classroom of 7th graders in an after school club and they NEVER quiet down. Some are the jokey type who are always saying something funny but listen and are good students. And others are just straight up rude. The second day of the club I asked several students their names who were acting out, and when they told me the rest of the class laughed. They were lying to me about their names, but no one in the class would tell me the truth. It made me break out in a sweat trying to figure out how to regain control of the class that was collectively testing me. Other times, students will tell me that they “aren’t going to do” the lesson plan I worked on for an hour because “it’s boring”.
Not only do I have rough times at work, but lately, I’ve been struggling with school for the first time in my life! Ok. Not the first time (music theory class=not a joke). But I’ve always been able to pull the grades. I’ve never gotten a C in my life. Now I can actually have pride in myself for doing so well this whole time, because I’m realizing how tough UC Berkeley is. My last semester was supposed to be relaxed, right? WHY, WHY DID I CHOOSE TO WRITE A THESIS!?! My Spanish class gives me an hour or more of hw every night, on top of my thesis, other midterms, take my teaching credential tests, and working 13+ hour weeks. I remember my mom always telling me that she wanted me to focus on school before work, that she would give me money if I needed it. Now my dad asks me the same thing, why don’t I quit my job?
Even though I’m scared about whats to come, and even though I thought about how nice those extra hours might be, theres a reason I can’t and won’t quit- I love what I do. I consider working in Oakland public schools as much of an education as my four years in Berkeley classes. These lessons were of a different substance than Blake and Spencer poems, and honestly, more valuable. I learned more about the world and about myself. I was humbled and I gained confidence. Just today, I spent half an hour writing a response to an ignorant (can I cuss on this website? I don’t think so) fool who was posted on a public OUSD blog that undocumented students are “Mexican criminal gangster aliens” and we should not believe their “sob stories” because “why don’t they just go to community college?”. Basically I told him to curb his racist B.S. because five of the most amazing, bright, motivated students in my school, who come to the college resource center more than anyone else, and who happen to be undocumented have access to this site and don’t need to add his rant to the long list of hardships they face everyday. My coworker read what I wrote and told me she thought I’d be a caring teacher. I thought about it and was surprised at myself for how angry I’d gotten. I never cared that much about large scale politics, as far as keeping up with The Economist or having regular fiery debates about the going-ons, but when it comes to working directly with people I do care and I do get passionate.
Even though I know how tough its going to be, how many days I will come home discouraged, upset, or disappointed, how far away I’ll be and how much responsibility I’ll have, I have no doubt that what I’m doing is the right thing. There is a reason I applied to TFA, a reason why my top choices for placements were out of state. Everyday I find more and more reasons why I want to work with teenagers and students, especially those who grow up through difficulties most adults could not even begin to comprehend. Everyday I am more and more grateful for the privileges I have- to receive financial aid that pretty much paid for my education, to make money helping students get into college, to be able to work in a way where I can care for and give to others. I’m excited for the chance to connect with my kids, hear their stories, and experience something completely different than I ever have before. Though I look around me and am afraid to leave all that I have again, I know it will be a grand adventure whatever the outcome. I’ll learn a lot about how much I can do. I’ll grow up a little more. I’ll come out knowing I had a steady job, I got out of California for a bit, I made a decision for myself and I constructed my own path. My mom would have been proud. I think about her and how my work is becoming more and more like hers. I’m glad I made this blog. =]