Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Inadequate vs. Powerful

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure..."- Marianne Williams

I struggled with this idea today. Today was my first day of Teach for America Induction. I met 120 other corps members and a host of TFA staff, alumni, and current corps members. Amazing people...each and every one of them. So talented, intelligent, motivated, driven...inspiring. I was so humbled to be in their presence.

We had a session where we became better acquainted with the purpose of Teach for America- to eliminate the achievement gap. The statistics almost made me cry. The fact that some students are allowed to fail while others are encouraged to succeed is disgusting, especially considering the idea that its no fault of their own. Moreover, the system is set up so that the statistics are perpetuated and the reality of the situation is ignored.

Needless to say, I got a better idea of the challenges I will face for at least the next two years of my young life. If I didn't know before, I know now- this is going to be the hardest thing I've ever had to do. SO as I sat there listening to current corps members and alumni talk about their experiences, I began to feel a little intimidated about this whole situation. I started thinking- Damn, am I cut out for this? Can I really be successful in motivating my students to reach and exceed their highest potential? I started to question my ability to do this. I started to feel....inadequate.

Then, I remembered that quote by Marianne Williams..."our deepest fear is NOT that we are inadequate." But I certainly wasn't feeling "powerful beyond measure" in that moment. I had to really reflect and do some quick soul searching. I realize that I am only as powerful as I allow myself to be. My doubts, fears, or thoughts of inadequacy will do NOTHING for my students. I can make a difference and I can be successful. Regardless of the statistics. Regardless of a messed up system. Regardless of my students' lack of sufficient education up until the point they enter MY classroom. It is up to me to liberate myself from any fears that might limit my potential and hinder me from achieving great success.

My deepest fear is actually pigeons.

Living and Learning.

Cocoons probably stink

Today, a close friend sent me an email about how sad she was about this period of transition...having recently graduated from college, missing friends, being uncertain about the future. This was my response to her. I think I needed to hear it more than she did.


Just think of all the times in your life when you have had to transition. Like when you had to learn how to walk. I'm not sure if you remember, but I can imagine that it was awkward. Up until that point, you were probably comfortable crawling around or being held in the arms of Grady and Cynthia [her parents]. But they had to stop carrying your heavy ass. So you learned to put one foot first. And you probably fell down a few times. But eventually you were walking- and the world was a different place from that point on.

If it would help to think of an external entity, consider a butterfly. At first, it is a slimy, hairy ass caterpillar confined to a life of dirt and leaves. Then, somehow (sorry, I didn't pay attention to the details in bio class) it transitions to life in a dirty cocoon. I'm sure that shit is uncomfortable. No one notices it. It's just wrapped up and secluded. No job. No activities. Then, one day that fool crawls out and flies away. People admire its beauty. People marvel at how freely it glides through the air- with purpose, with conviction. Have you ever tried to catch a butterfly? You can't even touch it.

Transition is a period of uncertainty. It's unsettling and uncomfortable. Take comfort in knowing that its also a temporary period. As cliche as it sounds...there IS a light at the end of the tunnel...and yours is bright- like Ashley's big ass red purse. I love you.

Living and Learning
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