TFA shouldn’t let corps members go home for winter break. If I thought it was hard to get back on the plane after Labor Day weekend with my family in Florida, it was ten times worse this time around, after two excellent weeks at home. On New Year’s Eve, I looked in the mirror and thought, It would be really easy just to stay here, with parents who pamper me, a still-adorable little brother, no lessons to plan, no children to manage… No one is making me go back. And I could hear voices, echoes of said parents and friends, asking me, If you’re miserable, why are you still there?
But here’s the thing: I’m not miserable all the time, not even most of the time (and for the most part, I keep the misery to myself and other CMs, so no one has actually used the word “miserable”…), and that carefree life would be fun for a bit, sure, but what would I do, and how could it possibly be as fulfilling? It’s silly to think that the carefree life would be sustainable; eventually, real life and real concerns (money, a job, the future) would creep in, and even if the next adventure weren’t as stressful as first-year teaching, it’d be a first-year something and, more than likely, not a walk in the park either. A vacation, a trip home, is just a wondrous break from reality, not to be taken as a representative glimpse of the life I could be living. It is glorious and terrific, yes, but partly because it is so different from real life. We appreciate things more when time with them is so limited.
I understand why people want to quit (hell, I’ve thought about it more than a few times), and I don’t pretend to know what makes one person quit and another stay. All I know is that I did get on that plane, and I am back and ready for more.
I am looking forward to this semester because, although I have my same students (I think…), it is a fresh start in many ways. A new quarter means a blank slate for grades, behavior tracking, and even content in some ways (though obviously math does build on past knowledge). I hope to see a turnaround in some students, and I hope to see improvements in all. With any luck, some of their new year’s resolutions were to do better in school. One of mine was to be a better teacher so that they will.