Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 27 2011

Fear of Good Teachers

Twelve more hours until my new job. Here’s the other thing I’m worried about: my colleagues. (This is the last of my worries, before you start thinking I’m a nervous wreck.)

My new school is heavy with TFA alums. The application was about a hundred times more in depth than the resume/cover letter/interview process I went through for every other school. I keep getting emails from my principal detailing the accomplishments of new staff members as they are hired. People are serious and this school is serious, and they’re doing such a good job sounding impressive that I’m really afraid I won’t be able to keep up.

Sure, I did well in TFA. But I was only being compared to first and second year teachers. I’m afraid that in my third year at a young school, I won’t count as new enough to be able to excuse little things. And sure, I did fine at my old school, but our other eighth grade math teacher used to tell the kids that they could just hang out as long as they pretended to work if the principal came in. The standard for me wasn’t exactly high.

I’m worried that everyone else will be great and I’ll end up being the struggling teacher with administration hounding me. Or I’m worried that everyone else will be on exactly the same page with discipline (which is how a good school is supposed to function) and my way will be wrong. Last year I found that I controlled my kids better if I was more relaxed with the little things, but what if my school expects us all to be tough on little things? It would be perfectly reasonable of them, but it would be a hard change for me and I’m not sure I would ultimately be successful in my classroom like that. If I can’t do what they expect from me, then we’re back to point A with me struggling and administration hounding me.

It would be easier to work at a school where I could be a big fish in a little pond. I could have taken a job at a school so full of bad teachers that I would have been left completely alone. (YES, plenty of schools like that exist. Don’t start with me.) But no matter how insecure I’m feeling, I know I don’t want that. I’m still so new to teaching that I know I have more than enough things I could improve. I don’t want to be told I’m fine and left alone. I want someone to pay attention to me and help me get better, and I want my colleagues to be so great that they can teach me how to be like them and push me to do more. So no matter how anxious I get about this, I know I actually want some version of what I’m afraid of (although obviously not the most extreme versions, please). Really, that isn’t so bad.

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