A Blog Covering D.C. Education [ABCDE]

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 21 2011

Spring and New Beginnings

Spring is a common literary motif. It’s supposed to symbolize new life and optimism. It is ironic, then, that the first thing that I saw when I opened my eyes this morning was a flash of lightning. The first thing I heard (after my alarm clock) was the deep rolling thunder, its timing staggered in relation to the bolt of light. The imagery was there. The overwhelming darkness created a somber mood. I should have seen the foreshadowing inherent in the situation. Little did I know that “corrupted beginnings” would become a theme for the day.

(Note: I just used a bunch of key English terms in that paragraph–I’ve been doing some thinking about my final exam.)

I like beginnings. Whether of a new class, a new week of teaching or, in this case, a new season–I feel that beginnings allow me to release, in a cathartic way, everything that has happened in the past. Of course, there are things in the past worth remembering, but I’d rather not carry them around forever. Beginnings allow me to let go of ends.

This weekend, I let go. On Friday, the day was over. The week, which seemed so long, was over too. I imbibed (in what, I will leave ambiguous). I vegetated (with books and magazines). By Sunday, winter was over. I pulled out my metaphorically-rusty bicycle and biked into Maryland (I can still feel the rushing sensation of cruising at 25mph on smooth pavement). I cooked a one-man feast. Going into Monday, I felt like I could start fresh.

So, replenished by my self-perpetuating optimism (like Candide’s), I came to school this morning. How ready I was to meet the new challenges of a new day!

And then spring equinox, the day that symbolizes new life, energy and optimism fizzed out, just as soon as it had begun.

My attendance rate speaks for itself:

  • 1st period: 11 out of 20 students, or 55%
  • 2nd period: 10 out of 24 students, or 42%
  • 3rd period: 2 out of 9 students, or 22%
  • Total: 23 out of 53 students, or 43%

It’s hard to be energized about teaching when half to three quarters of your students simply aren’t there. It’s hard to be energized when the weekend of replenishment still left me in a state where I was yawning every 5 minutes. It’s hard to be energized when “spring” seems more like one of those deceptive infomercial products–something that doesn’t actually work as advertised. The energy–where did it go?

Today, though, at least from a teaching standpoint, is over. Here’s a┬áreflective Socratic dialogue that summarizes my feelings:

Question: It’s spring, but where’s spring break?

Answer: Not for another 5 weeks, good sir.

Question: Can I say I’m burned out?

Answer: Unequivocal yes. Unequivocal yes…

Question: Can tomorrow be a better day?

Answer: Yes, good sir. After all, anything is possible.

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    Really, "A Blog Covering Dilemmas in Education": A (former) English teacher's reflections…

    D.C. Region
    High School

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