Break Every Yoke

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 05 2011

Just a nightlight against the blazing sun

Student reactions upon seeing me in a V-neck and AF-1s on Casual Friday
J.: “You mad fresh today, Mr. K.”
N.: “Dangggg look at you with your Air Forces.”
K.: “Hip-hop! Hip-hop!”
D.: “Mister, you look like a middle schooler today.”
L.: “Mr. K, you look so cute!”

I mentioned in my last post that October was a difficult month. Part of what made it so difficult was that in my district (and in many others, I’d imagine), it was the first month with three or more full school weeks in a row (i.e. no holidays). Combine that with 8:20am-3:54pm school days, administrative duty related to school turnaround, and biweekly three-hour certification seminars with mandatory projects and assignments, and you have a recipe for first-year teacher burnout. Indeed, I feel like this has been a common sentiment among the recent posts by first-year CMs on this site. (Of course, the “Sucktober” phenomenon is not limited to first-year teachers. My principal told me that even the twenty-year veterans at my school have been feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task before us.)

But now that I’m on the other side of October, I can’t believe how quickly the rest of the year is going to fly by. This month is shortened because of parent-teacher conferences this Wednesday and Thursday (meaning no classes), Veteran’s Day on Friday, and Thanksgiving break in three weeks. December will basically only have two and a half weeks of instruction because of finals and winter break. A fellow RI CM recently remarked that we’re technically one-eighth done with our TFA commitment, which both shocked and saddened me. I honestly don’t believe I’ve put any of my students on a better academic trajectory yet, and my teaching needs to improve by leaps and bounds before I’ll even have a hope of doing so. Curse this dreaded teaching plateau.

On a happier note, I was incredibly blessed yesterday by ONE EVENT, a city-wide worship event organized by my church and a partner church but involving over 700 believers from all over Providence. It was wonderful to set work aside for an entire evening and worship God through music and prayer. The message by Professor Scot McKnight was a powerful reminder that the gospel isn’t about being do-gooders or inviting people to church or singing songs—it’s about the story of Jesus Christ and His birth, life, death, and resurrection. The concluding message and prayer by my own pastor was a personal admonition to believers who are so busy doing the work of God that they have no time for God Himself. But most of all, the evening was an encouraging revelation that even here in this city, where I am still a relative stranger, I am a member of the united body of Christ, anointed to do great things for the kingdom of heaven. I’ve heard that no teacher is an island, but as a believer, that’s an understatement—I’m part of the mainland, the great continent of God’s people relying on His mercy to love Him with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love their neighbors as themselves. Hallelujah.

This is a relatively short update since I don’t have much else to say, but look forward to stories from my seniors about today’s SAT and whether the past month and a half of test prep was helpful at all. (I really really hope it was.) In the meantime, here’s a song that I’ve had on repeat for the past couple days. My favorite line is from verse 2: “Compared to you I’m just a nightlight / Against the blazing sun.” Truth.

Update (7:20 pm): Text message from R.: “MR DAT TESSSS WASSSS EASSSSYYY.” Can’t celebrate quite yet, but this does make me hopeful.

3 Responses

  1. els

    Yay for November! We have casual Fridays too, and my kids always freak out, mostly asking where I got my jeans and saying I look like a student. It’s overwhelming that we basically have 5 weeks left of our first semester of teaching.

  2. carol

    james your blog is seriously the best. never fails to make me laugh or smile or cry or be inspired.

  3. ekim

    i second carol’s comment.

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New city, same vision

Rhode Island
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