Saturday, May 24, 2008

Too Fast

The only 2 words that can accurately describe how the end of the year is shaping up.
The days fly by, and somewhere between Monday and Friday are moments where I try to fill them with everything I can; knowledge, confidence, courage...wisdom.
On Friday they met my parents - interviewed them for 45 minutes about Kansas and life where I grew up. I'd never seen them so engaged in 2 people for such a long time.
My 5th graders graduate 4 weeks from Monday.
20 days, minus PD days, 2 half days, and all of the school they miss at the end of the year, and our time is almost done.
- where did the last 2 years go? Did I do enough? Give enough? Will they forget? Will they be angry when I leave? What does the future have in store for them...and me?
There's only so much I can control, and after June 28th I have to trust someone else to teach them.
The thought of that makes me physically sick.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fessin' Up

Today I told my AP I was leaving at the end of the year.
It did not come out like I'd imagined it.
It was forced, by the fact that our preference sheets are due tomorrow and she will be gone. I didn't want to turn in a paper saying "I'm not coming back" without telling her at the end of a tiring day I sat down in her office and just told her.
I didn't thank her for her help as much as I should have or intended to...didn't tell her how much the last 2 years had meant or how much I would miss the school and my kids.
The best of intentions sometimes just don't play out the way you think they will.
"I'm sad," she said.
"Me too," I replied.
And it was pretty much left at that.
Both knowing there was much more to say, but not much point in it being said.
It's time for a change....this is not the first time change has felt so hard. 2 years ago everything inside of me was telling me not to come here. I'm so glad I did.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Get so caught up everyday
Tryna keep it all together
While the time it slips away
You see I know nothing last forever

Imagine there was no tomorrow
Imagine that I couldn't see your face
There would be no limit to my sorrow
So all I can say

I wanna tell you something, give you something
Show you in so many ways
'cause it would all mean nothing if I don't say something before it all goes away
Alicia Keys

The end of the year is full of paper work and looking forward, but I find myself hanging on desperately to every hour I have with my kids, for fear that I will regret the decision I made to leave them. Slowly but surely people are finding out that I am leaving and explanations of why make less and less me, and to them. This is the time of year where its easy to forget all that happened in earlier months, and instead you look only at the success that all the struggle produced.
Sometimes they attempt to convince me to stay, other times they only wish me luck and say how much the kids will miss me. "Only 2 more pay periods left," said someone today. She said it with hope. It made me panic.
2 more pay periods to teach my kids all I can...about reading, I'm not egotistical enough to believe that they'll never have a good teacher again...but some of them need help NOW, and there's a panic that I didn't give enough, didn't listen enough, didn't teach enough....that they need more, and I'm abandoning them.
I carry a guilt with me every day like none I've ever felt before. Maybe it will be better once they know...but for now I find myself trying to impart so much wisdom in each and every moment when my kids are full of spring fever and talking about "next year when we....." not knowing that I won't be part of their next year.

Monday, May 05, 2008


With grad school.
As of Saturday, I'm officially done, and graduation is May 21st.
As a final activity we had to fill out chart paper with "things we would take with us" and "things we'd leave behind"....not from grad school, but the TFA experience....from learning to be a teacher, a New Yorker, and....well....a grown up.
Some were funny, some were serious, and some gave rise to this knot in my throat that is still there when I think about the last day of school in June.
I looked around the room at people I'd known for the last 2 years. We came in thinking we could change the world, that we knew everything about urban education, and that nothing could shake us as people. I think all of that was shattered within our first week as teachers.
We were shaken, proved wrong, questioned, and and made responsible for some of the toughest kids you'll probably ever meet - the special education students of NYC's public schools.
We came in as future accountants, lawyers, investment bankers, and politicians. We're leaving as teachers. Even those of us that aren't staying in education can't help but look at the world as an advocate. "My kids" is the way we begin every other sentence, even though very few of us have any biological children.
This is not the end, but the beginning of lives changed, not just for us, but for our students.
We've made a difference. Could the impact have been bigger? Yes. Could we have been better? Yes. Is there room for improvement within TFA? Yes. But are my kids better off because I was their teacher? I hope so, because I definitely am. That's what I'll try to take with me....that....and the privilege of getting to know 13 of the most resilient people I've ever met.