The Learning Curve

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 02 2011

Round and round.

It has been such a busy time since I last posted.

I got to New Orleans in a stressful haze. I was behind the time I said I’d be there – which at first was addressed as if it were high treason, until they realized it was logistically outside of my control and came back to their senses – and when I finally arrived, had to unload all of my belongings into a storage unit that I barely remember the name of, say goodbye to my boyfriend and head to Tulane’s campus. Where I immediately got lost. Since the Hurricane a lot of the street signs are still missing. I don’t know if they plan on replacing them all, but they haven’t yet. From the day I stepped foot in NOLA one of TFA’s staff members told me that using GPS in New Orleans is a rookie mistake, and it’s the truest piece of advice I’ve received thus far. To say that logging into Google Maps is a silly endeavor is the understatement of the century. So many electronic maps don’t mention that some of the roads are one-way, or are gated at one end or in the middle. It’s definitely been an experience trying to navigate it all, and as a result, I’ve driven only twice since I got to the dorms, because I fear the road rage will prevent me from ever making it to my own classroom.

Induction itself has been, overall, a positive experience. There’s been a lot of social interaction with fellow incoming CMs (corps members) worked into the activities we have scheduled, and apparently this year is a lot less “session heavy” than previous years. I cannot say that this week has been the most efficiently run, however. I’m learning to fly by the seat of my pants and have a smile on my face through anything. In my previous job, I was lucky enough to have a trial by fire in that sort of situation; we oftentimes had to change things at the last minute, or adapt to a school or an administrator who wanted something completely different than we’d planned on. THAT IS SERVING ME SO WELL HERE. I’m not in a place to give anybody advice, but I’d say an undertaking like TFA requires a malleable nature and a positive outlook. Schedules mean nothing. I’ve gotten two or three schedules since I arrived two days ago, and none of them accurately relate what I’m supposed to be doing for longer than an hour after receiving it. At first, this was really, really irritating, but a large part of why this happens is because many TFA staff members are working around the clock to ensure that every CM gets an interview – ideally, multiple interviews – with schools, and that means schedules change whenever another school calls, or when things need to be rescheduled. It’s just the nature of the beast in this situation. I’m glad that I had the professional experience that I had prior to this because otherwise I think I’d still be trying to get my bearings.

I’m loving being in NOLA. The second night we were here, we had small group dinners with different TFA staff or CM hosts, and mine was at the house of one of the area’s PDs (program director). He lives in a beautiful house with other TFA staff and CMs, and he got us dinner from Superior’s, which actually had good queso. Today we were referred to Felipe’s just off Tulane’s campus for “really good Mexican food” but since a native Louisianan was telling us this, a couple of us Texans were a bit skeptical. It was suitable, though. The burritos were okay, but I do NOT recommend the queso to anybody, so just be aware of that! Not even those unfamiliar with Mexican food or Tex-Mex at our dinner were fond of it. I’d go back just for a Jarritos, though.

So far the name of the game is “adaptability.” I find I was a lot less stressed when I smiled and just accepted the directions of the TFA staff. I was in the office for about 3 hours today – don’t ask – and more than a handful of 2011 CMs were running around as if the sky was falling. I definitely understand the internal impulse, as it can be very stressful to have things shifting around you constantly, but once I just decided to “go with it,” and be where they put me, I felt so much better. I think people are calming down as they get more interviews, which is awesome. I really hope 100% of our region is placed by the end of Institute, if for no other reason than the peace of mind.

4 Responses

  1. Dom

    Welcome! I’m an ’08 GNO CM, and I’m still here in the classroom :-) I think it’s awesome they revamped the Induction experience for you all, and I hope it has a favorable effect.

    • thelearningcurve

      Thank you! I’m excited about GNO and my future here. I think the city itself is a good fit for me and I am enjoying the rest of the ’11 Corps Members. I obviously wasn’t at any early incarnations of Induction, but I like the way that this one is happening. It seems freer and I’m picking up a lot.

  2. G

    Your “adaptability” attitude is going to get you far….you’re going to be great!

    • thelearningcurve

      Thank you so much! I certainly hope so. Being easygoing here definitely keeps me happier on a personal level, so I hope it’ll serve me well in the future. Thanks for reading!

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