We certainly haven’t kept up with blogging the way that we intended. In our defense life has been BUSY! In the next few days we’ll work on updating all of our *fans* with some pictures and anecdotes of the wonderful adventures this first year of marriage and life on the east coast has taken us on. We’re loving every minute of this crazy and hectic life out here. We were warned that none of it would be easy, it hasn’t, but in the midst of challenge and struggle we have found a God who has provided for us in every way. We would not be the people that we are today without having walked through the fires that we’ve walked in these last 11 months. Here’s a short story from Rebbeca, a brief update on life in the classroom…
I haven’t been keeping up with this blog. And to go back now to try and update on everything that has gone on that I haven’t written about – moving to Philadelphia alone for 5 weeks in July/August, trying to get an actual job with the school district in Newark, and where I go/what I get to do in my “spare time” – would take far too long, so I’ll just start with what’s going on now. If I ever get back to what has happened I’ll write about it here but for now, on days when I actually get to each lunch, I’ll write and eat for a few minutes to keep everyone updated…this is about the only way that I can because I’m not even sure if I can find any phone numbers to call people on my cell phone anymore.
If you can’t already tell, school/life has been overwhelmingly busy for this first year teacher. In an attempt to not make this entire thing sound negative I will say that I love my students, love being in my classroom, love spending time planning for them. However, it is completely exhausting to get up between 4:30 and 5 every morning and go to bed around midnight that night….repeat for the next 5 days and then do absolutely nothing but sleep an entire weekend away. But this has been my life in the two and a half weeks since school has started. So if you’re thinking of me, pray that I get some sleep and somehow learn how to be a more efficient teacher.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m teaching two classes of Chemistry. I teach all seniors. My largest class has 17 students in it when they all come, which is often. They have made it all the way to their senior year and they are motivated, if by nothing else, just to get out of here. The biggest problems I have are a little bit of chatting during my “SILENT” do-now and students who are motivated to just get by but not go above and beyond that. I gave a unit 1 test today. In my Block 2 class the average was a 61%. Bummer. Apparently I’m not doing as well as I thought I was. We’ll see how things go in my 4th block class…
So, I’m pretty behind on the pre-institute work. I think planning a wedding, getting married, going on my honeymoon, and preparing to move might have something to do with that. My husband has been gracious enough to take over most of the planning and packing for our move – with the exception of everything I need to bring to institute so I’ve got most of the next several days to do nothing but read for TFA. I don’t like putting it all off to the last minute but with no other choice the silver lining is that at least it will all be very fresh in my mind come next Sunday! I’m getting excited!
Now that I’ve actually had some time to reflect, I better post a few pictures from the big day! The week before was absolutely insane since I’d been traveling up until then and I ended up doing a lot of things at the last minute. PTL for friends who stayed up late and did EVERYTHING for me that I needed! It truly was amazing and we had an amazing day! I’ll post the rest of the day in pictures:
Many thanks to wonderful friends for these great pics! Sorry about the size and quality of some but I have a lot of pre-institute work to finish up by next week so I don’t really have time to fix all of it! It was a perfect day!
So, I believe I have some updating of this little blog of ours to do and you should be seeing several posts in the next few days regarding everything TFA and life!
In May I spent 5 days out in Newark for what is affectionately known as May Days among the Newark Corps. It was so great to be there and finally put faces to all of the people that I’d been communicating over the past several months. One benefit of being a first deadline corps member is that you have a lot of time to get to know people and get as much information about Newark as you can! The daily session consisted mostly of learning about the achievement gap in Newark and about what we, as teachers, can do about it on a daily basis. There was also all manners of paperwork, testing, and figerprinting to get done in order to be a teacher in New Jersey as well as plenty of time to just hang out and get to know one another before the intensity of institute hits us all like a ton of bricks.
After my classroom observations (an entire post in and of itself) ended on Friday afternoon I met up with my then fiance, now husband, and a current TFAer and her husband for dinner and a little league baseball game as well as some house hunting. We spent all day Saturday house hunting and visiting with my mentor for the fall and WE FOUND A HOUSE! We were so excited when we walked in and looked around, realizing that it was exactly what we had been praying for and at the way that God continues to provide for every one of our needs, even the little “requirements” I had for a place to live! Sunday was spent relaxing, eating local neighborhood foods, hanging out with the mafia, and flying home relishing in how excited we were to begin our life in Newark!
“In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” Acts 13v1-3
Throughout the process of pre-marital counseling, planning a wedding, and preparing to move across the country to start a new life, it is easy to lose focus. It is easy to forget the perspective with which we are called to walk this Earth and to forget the purposes behind the mundane and the stressful times. It is easy to get wrapped up in needing a place to live, needing a car to drive, needing clothes to wear, needing to meet people, that we forget who the provider of all of those needs is in the first place. This process of learning wisdom and discernment, of seeking counsel and truly discovering the life to which God has called us is not an easy process but as we know, it is quite the adventure. Our life may not look like the cultural norm and everyone may not agree with what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, but we remind ourselves often that it is God who has called us to live this sacrificial life, it is Him who has placed His blessing on our lives and given us the greatest opportunity of a lifetime – to give up everything for Him.
When we need encouragement we look to the words of Luke in the book of Acts and remember that we are not the first ones to leave everything behind or to face trials of many kinds, but that we have the love and support of those who sent us. The joy and blessings that come in following God’s purposes and callings on our life far outweigh any comfort zone or box we might find ourselves trying to fit within.
I decided that in order to keep friends and family (and whoever else I suppose) involved in what we’re really going through in these two years with TFA I’d post my writing assignments and probably down the line some lesson plans and activities that I do in the classroom. It’s difficult stay in touch and keep everyone posted in the day-to-day, but these thoughts will help you all better understand the things that are going on in my mind in daily life. I feel honored to be apart of all of this and I am really enjoying putting ideas on paper; it’s focusing me and inspiring me to work harder than ever for my students this fall.
Enjoy my answers to a few questions from Exercise 1 of my pre-institute work! As I was writing I was realizing that so much of it is repetitive ideas that must simply be ingrained in me in order to understand it. It’s like a math concept or a chemical equation, it must be repeated over and over again until the concept is mastered. There is a lot of idealism in my voice still. I’m optimistic about how things will be in my classroom and I’m inspired by the stories that I’ve read. I realize that reality will likely be very different and that any person would likely choose the best experiences possible to tell their story, but still I’m optimistic. I believe in hard work and perseverance, and I believe in my future students’ ability to succeed.