House on Mango Street – Teacher Edition

One of my co-workers, who has incidentally also been my first-year-teacher buddy (Ms. Gwendolyn), taught “The House on Mango Street” to her group of seventh grade English students. One vignette¬†seemed particularly poignant – “Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark.” This has sparked a whole series of spin-offs that aptly describe this first year. Someday, maybe, we’ll write a book with all of these as our chapter titles:

“Teachers who wake up tired in the dark”
“Teachers who grade in the dark”
“Teachers who flop over on the floor and cry in the dark”
“Teachers who drive to work tired in the dark”
“Teachers who sit on the floor and grade”
“Teachers who watch 24 and grade”
“Teachers who drink beer and grade”
“Teachers who go book shopping instead of grade”
“Teachers who make coffee and talk about grading”
“Teachers who drink coffee in the dark”
“Teachers who plan and drink coffee in the dark”

The list of possible “Teachers who….” goes on and on. That one title sums up all of this year. Or rather, it sums up the darker points of this year. Like getting to work before 6 am. Or grading for hours before coming to horrible realization that you put the wrong total for all 200 tests. Or discovering that the students are really not ready for the material you had planned for them. I think, though, that the year will end with a different “Teachers who….”

“Teachers who discover they can teach”
“Teachers who love their job”
“Teachers who see their students flourish”
“Teachers who are proud of their students, regardless of personal cost”

I think this is how I’ll remember this first year. Not as the sleepless, dark mornings when everything looked bleak, but the sunny afternoons when things looked up, when the kids got it, when they realized I was on their team, when they discovered that they trusted that I would make things right, when I discovered I might have a chance to make it through the year (sanity intact) and be happy and excited for the next year.

“Teachers who look forward to teaching”

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