Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Why would I want to teach forever?

The title of this blog comes from something I wrote a few years ago (which I also hope to use for my book):

[Originally posted on MySpace, Saturday, November 05, 2005]

"...and that's why I Teach for America!"

A running joke among my fellow Teach for America alumni dates back to our initial training in Houston two years ago. During the closing ceremonies, they had a segment where some corps members came on stage and told an amazing story of how they had made some incredible impact in a student's life. Each story ended with "...and that's why I Teach for America!" The stories were great and inspirational, but that tag line was just silly.

And so it became a good thing to put at the end of some sort of ridiculous assertion or story in our own teaching experience (i.e. "Today my students told me that the most important thing they had learned this year is not to piss The Sir off... and that's why I Teach for America!") It serves as a little reminder of why we all signed up in the first place.

I had what would otherwise be considered an awful week, probably the worst I've had since leaving my old school, except for one of these genuine inspirational moments. I thought about coming on here to vent about what went wrong this week, but this is far more important and worth sharing:

It came just in the nick of time, at the end of the day Friday, from the same student I wrote about last week (codename Condoleeza a/k/a Condi). She wrote me a small handwritten note that she literally threw at me, saying "Here, I want you to read this," before heading back to class. Here is what she wrote:

You gave me the inspiration to start writing again.

"Inspirational Eyes"

Those eyes filled with inspiration. As we talked about my academics I couldn't help but wonder what lied behind those eyes. I felt like if there was a brick wall that wouldn't let me enter in his world while, all the time he made me brag about mine. Why should he take an interest, why should he care? I have not showed the same gratitude he has shown me. I have treated him like an outsider but, I still wonder why I should let him in if in a short time I would be gone and he would not even think twice about me after I leave out those glass doors. As I walk away would he wonder what has and, what will become of me? If I would be okay? If I were to start thinking negative would I find someone to confide in? As all these thoughts ran around my mind, I wondered what would become of him and know that at least I would have the memory of him being there for me.

As I turn back to take another glance at the place I spent my first 2 six weeks of school at I remember and hate myself that I forgot to say thank you. Til' I see those...

I want to teach forever.