It's been an interesting last month in Teach for America. Last year this time I was struggling a lot, but still moving forward. I had a 2 day break the first week of November (where I went back to Minneapolis and had a great time). That break in the near future quickly pushed me through the month affectionately named "Sucktober" by fellow TFAs.
But while I was struggling last year I saw this great thing here in the Delta. This thing that I wanted to stay here for, and make sure kept going well. I loved my kids, my school, my staff - most everything. It was all still fresh, still fun, still new.
I am at a very different place now. I still feel blessed to be here, still feel great about my kids, and feel significantly better this year about my ability to make an impact. But there is this different feeling associated with being down here, in this town that is struggling, in this region that is struggling. I look at the progress my kids have made, and think to myself - some of this struggle that they put up with... what is it worth?
We don't push our students to get to the next level sometimes. We are happy with students going to the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, a school not even ranked in the top 100 schools in the nation. But then, I stop. If that's the place the kid will succeed then maybe that is where they need to go. But is it right to not push to see if perhaps something a little more difficult could work to? I just don't know how to handle these situations.
Perhaps my biggest problem with this is because now I have a very direct line to this problem. My babies, my first year of teaching kiddies, my favorites forever, are going to college next year. Did I help prepare them? Maybe a little bit, but not enough. Do I think some of them will make it? Yes, I hope so. Will I think it will be a struggle if they want to make movement into a new place, a higher level place? Absolutely.
What do I do with that? It's depressing to me that after I leave I won't make that impact anymore. Or maybe that what impact I did have will not be there anymore. Quickly forgotten, quickly replaced. Or perhaps more depressing, that maybe I didn't even have a significant impact.