Today marks four weeks. I have been a real teacher for a month. I have felt completely defeated. I have had bright spots of joy with my students. I have been well-praised and bluntly reprimanded in a single day. This is my new life.
I teach ninth- and tenth-grade English at my high school. There’s only one other English teacher at my school; she teaches the juniors and seniors. It was a shock to come right out of college and have the reading, writing, and communication skills of half a school dropped into my lap. I have so little experience; more than once I’ve thought, “I can’t do this.” My planning skills are mediocre at best, and I never quite feel like I’m doing it right. I keep going back every day, though, and I will for the next two years.
My saving grace is ACE. The support structure is exactly what I needed. Teach for America horror stories make me so glad I committed to ACE (though I considered applying to TFA as a backup plan). My community is amazing. They celebrated my birthday in bits and pieces over nine days. I’ve never had a novena birthday before, and I’ve never felt so loved by people I’ve known for such a short time. It started the Saturday before my actual birthday. I’d decided that dinner at IHOP would be the perfect birthday meal, but Brendan and Michael were going away for the weekend, so they surprised me two hours before they took me there for a late lunch. (They knew a kidnap was out.) On Tuesday, after community prayer, they gave me my present: a Maryland state flag to hang on our flag wall. On Saturday, Brynn and Sarah decorated my door, and we ordered Papa John’s and got Breyer’s ice cream and Chardonnay to celebrate. On Monday, they took advantage of my general obliviousness to bake me a birthday cake. It was the longest and best birthday I’ve ever had. Our community has its moments (or maybe it just has moments with me…), but we’re all in this together (cue High School Musical) and we’ve all got God.
Besides the grace of my ACE community, there is the grace of God. I may not always know what I’m doing, but I know that God does. He’s given me a love for teaching, learning, books, and language, and the awesome opportunity to combine and share those gifts. I have less time for my personal spirituality than ever, but I know that when I can retreat into the stillness of my heart, he is there. He’s waiting to comfort me and guide me through this new, crazy life called ACE.