Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 25 2008

You got CMIP’d!

There comes a point in every CM’s time at institute where they stop being able to function properly and start crying. By leaking, I mean crying at inappropriate times due to stress. For me, that point was today, June 24th, though I guess now it is already June 25th. Because TFA teaches us the value of asset-based thinking (propagandapropagandapropaganda) , I believe that today, Wednesday, will be better than yesterday. Today I will stop leaking. Today I will regain control of my life. We learned a helpful phrase to say instead of swearing at your students–”Get your life together.”

I am going to get my life together.

That involves getting a checkbook. Turns out that I had several checks due to institute today, which I knew were due, but did not have the date in mind. Writing and delivering these checks becomes increasingly difficult when you do not have so much as a bank account. Cut to me crying in the middle of a Delta session when someone speaks inspiringly of the change we are going to make and me thinking to myself, “I won’t make ANY change. I am a failure.”

The lack of a checkbook combined with the fact that I was observed for an extended period of time during my math lesson today made Tuesday even more stressful. Math, by far my least favorite (and least successful) subject from roughly 4th grade on, is turning out to be difficult and stressful to teach. It is stressful insomuch as I do not remember what 5th grade math things are. For example: congruent figures, or quadrant 1 grids. Or your 11 times tables. I used a calculator! I do not know them! I had to write the answers on the back of my flashcards that we used this morning. Moral of the story is that my insecurities in math are transferring to me being incredibly insecure in my instruction of math. This leads to me straying from my lesson, being insufficient, and generally just a pile of bad teaching. Pre-novice.

The lack of a checkbook combined with the fact that I was observed added onto the impending doom of my “debrief session” about my observation, which took place after my panic regarding the checkbook made my life miserable enough. To add icing to my german chocolate sadness cake, I got my Wednesday rough draft lesson plan back. On it was written, roughly, “THIS IS WRONG AND HORRIBLE. YOU WOULD LOSE IF YOU PLAYED ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A FIFTH GRADER. ” Turns out, I had not written my lesson plan wrong, but merely misunderstood the objective of my lesson. By which I mean, I am not smart enough to do 5th grade math.

All this makes me much more confident to go into the classroom in the fall! All together, I cried about the following things: checks, stubbing my toe, my lesson plan, my crappy lesson, my impending termination, my general feelings of worthlessness, and the fact that we’re all running on 4-ish hours of sleep. I have not broken my vow of never crying in school. I did, however, start crying in a room full of Delta people while talking about being inspiring. I feel like the message was lost on me at the time.

When I get nervous I end up talking (which is a clue that i am nervous probably 95% of the time), and so what I ended up doing to cheer myself up about impending doom was to discuss being CMIP’d. I’ve mentioned before TFA’s obsession with acronyms, and cmip’d is an acronym that, I believe, originates from corps members. It stands for Corps Member Improvement Plan, which to most people is seen as step one towards turning in your punch card and picking up an application to Borders. I decided that if TFA was going to CMIP people, they should do it like the tv show Punk’d, with bright lights and cameras, and then when the dejected ex-corps member is walking out the front door after turning in his/her room key, they will look dejectedly at the camera and say “awww mannnn, i got CMIP’d!” This talk of termination cheered me up considerably.

Moral of the story? Things are ok. I can turn the checks in by Friday. I fixed my lesson plan. My debrief was productive and helpful. I finished everything I needed to in time to blog my heart out for nobody in particular and be asleep by 1:30. It’s 1:18, I’m planning on being out of it in 10 minutes or less.

Someone mentioned to me today that we’re at the halfway point of institute. That was another time when I started leaking, but it was a good kind of tears, the happy kind.

I am excited, somewhere under all this.

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    Mississippi Delta
    Elementary School
    Elementary Education

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