When I was young, I spent most of my childhood playing school. I would make up worksheets, have fake parent-teacher conferences, grade fake papers. I went above and beyond as a ten year old, literally completing a test for each imaginary kid. But that’s how I’ve always been: I didn’t do things the way people said I should; I won’t do anything someone tells me to do; I refuse to even follow a cooking recipe. I lost that for a while the first half of the school year, when I pretty much lost myself. I got so caught up in the pressure: the pressure to be one of the ones who make a “profound impact;” to be the ones we hear about at institute with 2 years of growth; to be a teacher with a perfectly managed classroom. I forgot that in order to make a difference, I need to bring myself into it. I need to use who I am to make my own difference. I know that I have what it takes because I don’t fail; it’s just not something that I do. It’s not that I don’t struggle; things are hard but I always find a way.
What I have to remember is that if I’m going to be the pilot in this classroom, I have to do things my way. Which means that there won’t always be perfect order. Lines won’t always be straight. There won’t always be one answer. Because that’s not who I am at all.
I was raised by two therapists; I did my own hair in kindergarten; I have never drawn inside the lines. So I am not just another Teach for America teacher mixed into the statistics. I am me, and I will run my classroom the way that I am. It might be crazy and wild and unconventional, but at the end of the day I want these kids to know that they can succeed. And that they will. Even though they may wake up each morning with the world against them, with the sinking feeling that they are going to fail today, wanting to succeed and not knowing how. Because that’s how I wake up each morning, and they’ll see that I am going to succeed too.