Being Ms. B

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 11 2012

In which it always gets harder


Here is the craziest part of the TFA experience.  Every time you think that you have experienced the hardest thing you can experience, it turns out that you ain’t seen nothing yet.

I  am writing this on another Megabus trek to Chicago, listening to my Institute playlist.  Institute was SO hard (sorry 2012s, when they tell you how great it is, they’re lying).  Institute compared to August though, pshaw, cake walk.  

I have not been great at coping with this Topsy Turvy roller coaster ride (obviously).  In fact, I’ve had to be three different people in order to survive.

Ms. B part one (June through October):  GEE GOLLY THIS SURE IS HARD, but it’s a gonna get better and I’m plucky enough to see it through with a great big smile.

Ms. B part two (October through January 25th): I don’t even like to talk about this one.  This was depression, plain and simple.  This was feeling powerless and drained all day, every day.  This was hating, really hating, my job, my kids, my life, at every turn.  This was tunnel vision and numbness to everything and anything.  This was 3 meltdowns over Christmas break from thinking about coming back to school.  . 
The scariest part of this person is that I didn’t really get how badly she was coping until about 2 weeks ago.  Also, if you want to know how I know it ended on January 25th, wait for my tell-all (still looking for title suggestions).

Ms. B part three (January 25th through today): The realist returns.  School doesn’t infect my entire being; I don’t have nightmares about my kids.  I come home and leave the building behind, I breathe beautiful gulps of fresh air and it doesn’t reek of adolescent drama.   I become a champion compartmentalizer, in other words, and my family and friends (for the most part) get to see me acting like a person again.  On the flip side, I become a champion slacker in terms of school work – however, the children don’t seem to suffer.  By the way, this doesn’t mean that I suddenly become a great teacher who loves every child unconditionally and enjoys the trials of travails of this job, but it does mean I handle my imperfections better.

If you, gentle reader, have read these three biographical sketches and thought that it sounds like things are all for the best (in this, the best of all possible worlds), you would be tragically mistaken.  

Now to the crux of my sermon for today, because this is my hardest ever blog post (and not just because I’m writing it on a bus, but because it’s certainly a delicate topic). This past week,  while breaking up a hallway fight between two girls, one of my students grabbed me from behind in a strangle hold.  45 seconds later, another student punched me(accidentally?) in the jaw.  Hard.  The puncher was suspended from school for two days.  The strangler got no disciplinary consequence.  

No official for my school has spoken to me about this incident.  I was not sent to the nurse, or asked to speak to the police.  A security guard asked me to write a statement, which I did, asked if I was ok, which I was, and we moved on with our day of teaching and learning.  Well, teaching, learning, and fighting – we tallied 6 major hallway and bathroom fights in sixth grade alone that day.

And for the most part, Ms. B number 3 has reacted to this entire series of shenanigans with her well beloved and recently returned sense of humor. I haven’t been hysterical, or even all that emotional; I’ve just concurred with the general statement that the entire situation is too ridiculous to be comprehended. A colleague of mine saw the video of the incident (clearly we have cameras in our hallways) and commented on how calm I was; the reenactment he performed was stunningly true to life.  And sure, because hysteria hasn’t done me any good in the past.  It won’t do me any good in the future.  Plus, there are, believe it or not, silver linings here, but again, you’ll have to wait for the tell all.

I guess what I mean about things getting harder is that this experience has a compounding interest relationship for absurdity.  At the end of the day, the measure of the day to day is all about how you handle it.

One of the pluck myself up songs from the Institute playlist just popped up.  It says, and no, I’m not making this up, “I  am a good person, I am an attractive person, I am a talented person, grant me grace.”

I finally believe some of that.  There are 10 weeks left in the 2011-2012 school year. 

I can do anything for 10 weeks.  I can do anything for 10 weeks with a beautiful summer stretching into the futur
So bring it.

5 Responses

  1. Seriously can’t imagine teaching in your circumstances. I’m impressed and proud of your attitude.

    • katb

      Thanks, it wasn’t easy to get there :)

  2. Mr. Branch

    You mentioned me!

    • katb

      Mr. Branch you know you’re my favorite character in the wacky cast of our school.

  3. TFA-CT '09 CM

    I just read this post and I know exactly the song you’re referencing from The Last Five Years – I listen to it often to pump myself up, too! Stay strong – you’ll look back on this year fondly, in the sense that you’ll never have to be a first-year teacher again. :)

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