Midwest Love Affair

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 09 2012

oo1. A New Beginning…

I’ve felt this intense desire to start this blog ALLLLLLL week long. Now I’ve finally created it and I feel like I have nothing to say. No, scratch that. I have TONS to say. But I’m not sure I’m capable of putting all of my thoughts and feelings into words right now. So bare with me.

I left Scranton, Pennsylvania last Saturday and (after a stop in Western Ohio) reached Kansas City, Missouri on Sunday afternoon. Even after driving for 19 hours, it still hasn’t sunk in just how far away from home I actually am…but yeah, it’s pretty far. Surprisingly, I’m not homesick yet. I’m still too nervous/excited/anxious for all the amazing things that come with moving to a new city, meeting new people, and starting a new job. And Induction has kept me pretty busy.

My Induction experience has been a super, super positive one. I was really hesitant at first. The idea of meeting all sorts of new people and being forced to interact and make friends is VERY unappealing to me. I’m just not a super social person. For some reason, people aren’t drawn to me at first. I think it has a lot to do with the way that I look and how I carry myself. It’s just difficult for me to “fit in” with groups of people. I don’t know. This is still something that I’m trying to figure out. Fortunately for me, much of Induction was dedicated to the notions of “identity” and the “relationships” we form.  Apparently, I was chosen for TFA partly because I’m capable of creating and maintaining good relationships with others. Ehhh…I guess? I don’t know. I’m my own worst critic. Half the time I don’t know why people put up with me. But I’ll take TFA’s word for it for now. A lot of Induction also centered around sharing our thoughts, feelings, and opinions. It brought me back to college and my often inability to express my thoughts/feelings/opinions. Quite a few times this week I was surprised when someone else was able to articulate exactly what I could not. That made me feel…not so weird. And helped me to see that maybe I DO have valid opinions on occasion.

Somehow, I came across as “vulnerable”. I talked about how I feel like being fat is part of my identity. Well, it is. It’s a big part of my identity (no pun intended). And it’s a part of my identity that I’ve denied for years and years and years. I’ve come to a point where I can no longer deny that people make judgments about me based on my appearance. And if I’m supposed to be coming to terms with my own stereotypes, then I need to acknowledge this fact as well. But talking about my weight has always been a sensitive subject. It makes me uncomfy. And it makes others equally as uncomfy. During my story of self, I talked about feeling inadequate. I talked about a time when I was told that I just wasn’t a “leader”. While I was telling this story to two of my teammates…I cried. Oh, of course I cried. But yeah…I’m the vulnerable, self-conscious girl with low self-esteem who’s here with these amazing young adults who have accomplished so much during their short lives. And yet, somehow, I’m not feeling as inadequate as all of this whining may sound. This week has helped me to realize that I do have something to offer to my students. My insecurities and vulnerabilities will be a strength in my classroom. God, I’m not sure how yet…but they will be.

There are so many other things that I want to talk about here. I feel like being surrounded by TFA people is an experience all in itself. Being able to go to a bar and listen to people talk about curriculum, classroom culture, and racist texts is just so wonderful. Each and every person is aware of the inequality surrounding us and has legitimately made a sacrifice to do something about it. It’s crazy. In just a few days I’ve learned so much about myself, so much about Kansas City, and so much about the poverty and inequity in this area that my mind has been blown at least ten times over. It’s just…wow. That’s really all I can say.

When I decided to join TFA, I’m not sure what I actually thought would happen. I knew that I’d be sent to a low income community. I figured that I would be teaching in a “not-so-nice neighborhood”. But I don’t think I really understood what teaching in an area like Kansas City meant. This week, inequity has become real for me. I learned just how few students graduate and go onto college or are prepared for a career. I also learned that a majority of the students in KC are undocumented immigrants and therefore can’t even attend college in Missouri if they wanted to. That’s so crazy for me to think of! And I’ve seen the differences between the predominantly white college prep schools and the predominantly black and hispanic public schools. I now know that the students I will be teaching have nowhere else to go. They’re stuck in a failing school system because they don’t have the resources to get out. I had never, ever imagined to encounter these things when I envisioned my experience with TFA

The scariest part of all of this is that…even after all I’ve learned, I know that I still know so very little. From what I’ve heard from older CM’s, the school year is going to be one crazy, wild ride.

For the first time in my life…I feel that this is really where I’m supposed to be. I can’t even explain it. But it’s crazy…

-K

About this Blog

Just another weblog

Region
Kansas City
Grade
Middle School
Subject
English

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