Fear Itself

I am so afraid.

A brief list follows:

I am afraid of…
• Not transferring by September to the cool, progressive school in my neighborhood
• Stacks of hundreds of unread projects and essays that collect dust beneath my desk and drive my neat, spatially-obsessed boyfriend crazy
• Students who balk, disbelieve, doubt, or otherwise smirk at what we do in class
• The kids who never choose partners (and no one chooses them) during pair work
• Nasir, a dizzyingly intelligent, difficult, oppositional kid
• Sam, a stunningly disruptive, defiant kid with poor literacy
• The social ferocity of Lila, who prizes chatting above everything academic and takes EVERYTHING personally
• Planning a year of curriculum by myself
• The loneliness of working in a school where there is virtually no discourse about teaching
• The whines and moans of faculty re: students who are ‘lazy,’ ‘knuckleheaded,’ ‘pains in the ass,’ etc.
• Staying at work past sunset
• Forgetting what my boyfriend looks like
• Never having time to make food and subsisting on takeout Thai and pizza
• Never having time to run, swim, or take yoga
• Not having enough democracy in my classroom
• Designing projects the kids think are stupid
• Not assessing students well enough, thoroughly enough, fairly enough, quickly enough
• Falling behind, falling behind, falling behind
• Not being in close enough touch with over a hundred students’ parents
• The Homework Inbox
• Grading makeup work at the end of the marking period during the mad dash for a passing grade
• Perpetuating a system of oppressive education: grades, Regents, competitiveness, Old School teaching practices
• Not having time for fragile Ava, who always seems like she could stand to take a half hour talk to me about all the horrible things she’s going through
• Not seeing signs of self-harm in Ava
• Facing off with Lavender, the most dismissive 15-year-old in Bed Stuy
• Teaching Harrison and Steven, who have profound learning disabilities—they were taken out of my class last year to go to the resource room
• Teaching classes of 30 or more when the most I had last year was 26, and usually it was 15 or 18
• Maintaining my Master’s coursework while I teach (one more year!)
• Keeping up my habit of feeling like a failure every day

There. I said it. Now maybe it won’t be all up in my dreams every night.


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