Unfortunately, anxiety is an emotion I am all too familiar with. I’ve battled anxiety throughout my life, watching it wax and wane depending on my life circumstances, engaging in an ongoing process of learning how to cope with my anxious feelings. During my time as a corps member, my anxiety was particularly bad. It even got to the point where I experienced a panic attack—a really scary experience that I didn’t fully understand at the time.
I’ve been out of the corps for several years now, and have begun training in a counseling psychology graduate program. Through my training, I’ve learned some helpful things about anxiety that I wish I’d known back when I was a CM.
I love watching Olympic figure skating. The athlete makes the art of skating appear effortless, but only through thousands of practices and a flawless execution. I think this is a lot like teaching: if an observer watches me work in my classroom, he will see me teach, correct, praise, admonish, and deliver the dreaded teacher stare, all in the space of two to three minutes. It’s taken me a long time to master these skills, but now that I’ve got them down, I can make teaching appear easy to the untrained eye.
But while good educators excel in the social skills required to interact effectively with students, we often fail miserably at interacting effectively with politicians. I’m not just talking about Congress or our president—I’m referring to those even closer to us, such as our school board and our city council members. These are the people who actually make the decisions that impact us each day, and we ignore them at our own peril. Like it or not, who we teach, what we teach, and the resources we receive to do so are dictated completely by politics and politicians. Quite simply, politicians determine everything that happens in our public education system. Continue reading
So, when I heard that tonight’s speech was titled “What’s Next at Teach For America,” my heart leapt, then sunk, then leapt again. As someone who has been (impatiently) waiting to see the results of the listening tour undertaken by Matt Kramer and Elisa Villanueva Beard, TFA’s co-CEOs, I was excited to see what was coming next at the organization. But then, of course, came the doubts and the jaded nature you can get when you’re part of an organization for five years. Would there really be anything new? While I’ve seen TFA change throughout my tenure—I came in as a corps member, and now am part of the social-media team—I wasn’t sure where the event’s message was headed. Continue reading