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It’s incredible to me to realize that I started this blog over a month ago.

I so meant to keep up with on a regular basis, but based on what I know now that was a ridiculous aim.

Institute has been crazy. I’m not sure Houston agrees with me, based mostly on my horrible relationship with the bugs here and my intense homesickness. Then again, I have seen little else aside from Rice (where we are staying) and McReynolds Middle School (where I am teaching this summer) since I’ve been here.

My days are pretty overwhelming. I wake up around 5:30 or 6, grab some breakfast and my lunch and hop on the bus to McReynolds. I pop in my ipod and reflect/take a morning “nap” (yes, already) on the way. Once there I get ready for class. I teach first period, 6th grade reading. Most days I love love love being in the classroom and interacting with my students. I just hope they really learn something. I’m not sure they know how much I love being there with them, because I tend to be more of a tough love person to start with. I know that these students need structure and discipline. They need to be held to high expectations. They need all this in order to learn and get on the path to success. I don’t mean to say I’m horrible to them – I’m not. I do silly character voices when I read to them, I encourage them to share their thoughts and opinions and I applaud them for their effort and learning. But I am also stern, and they know this.

After I teach I have 2 sessions back to back. Then I have a couple hours of “free” time during which I can begin planning for the next day and beyond. I usually finalize the lesson plan I have due for the next day and begin working on a rough draft for another lesson plan.

Then we get with our CMA groups (CMA – corps member advisor), to get some tips and do some more work. Then it’s a bus home. Usually when I get back to Rice I don’t even go back to my room. Instead I go to the resource room to find text for future lessons, or the print/copy rooms to prepare for future lessons/due dates. Then I usually sit in the cafeteria and work on stuff until I get it done which is about midnight. Then it’s off to my room finally, and bed. The next morning it begins again.

Honestly, this is already the hardest I have ever worked. I can’t remember a time in my life when I worked so continuously and so purposefully. It’s kind of interesting to know that it’s possible. It is just a tribute to the fact that people rise to fulfill that which is expected of them. I was never really required to work as hard and continuously as I am now. Sure I had a big assignment due here or there but otherwise, I was fortunate enough to know my subject area well enough to be fine without a lot of effort (which is kind of sad, come on Bradley…). But now, I am constantly working. Even if it’s not always the best material the first time around, I feel I am always working, basically non-stop to get my work where it needs to be.

And you know what that means? That if I can do it, so can my kids. It means that my students will also rise to the expectations I set for them. I know it is possible and I can’t wait for them to know it too.

On the way home from school I often begin feeling down. I am so far away from my friends and family, people I love. It hurts. It’s harder than I thought it would be. There is so much to do and every night and day is pretty much the same and I have barely seen Houston. But almost every morning during and after my class I feel energized and ready to do it again. And that is one of the feelings I try to pull on when I am feeling down.

Maybe it won’t feel so weird once we move out of Rice and into real homes. I found an apartment last weekend with two girls I met here who are pretty cool! We sign the lease on Friday. But when I think about staying here for a year or two honestly right now it freaks me the hell out. I know the year will probably fly by, but that doesn’t mean the days will. I heard someone say the other day, “The days are long but the year is short.” Exactly. That is exactly what it’s like.

I’m definitely fortunate for the support system I have, although I’ve barely been able to kit with anyone during this intense training. Several people have quit already, from what we hear. And I’ll bet that EVERYONE here has entertained the idea AT LEAST once. It’s such a nice one, after all. To just take back control of our lives and say, I quit. To free ourselves from the due dates and self-doubt, and go back home to where people love us and places are familiar and welcoming. But then, most of us would not be who we are if we gave in to those feelings. And most of us can recall, in times of difficulty, why we are here and why we would never actually give up. Because, as we chanted (yes, chanted) at the end of our school session today: “This week I have given of myself”, and because of that kids have learned and achieved and are getting on the path to opportunities they did not know existed. Something along those lines. The point is yes, all of us here have given tremendously of ourselves. We have given up most of our sleep, free time, energy and social lives for these kids and you know what?? These resources are truly on their way to a place where they will make a difference in our students’ lives.

Too sappy for ya? Read another blog..haha. I’m off to take a RARE (as in, my first one in all my time here and let’s see if it really even happens) NAP.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the update. Pray for me, and all of us, to come out of this alive and well and – most importantly- with our drive to close the achievement gap still intact!