So... I quit my job. Surprise! So much for all of those gung-ho, lezz-do-this-thang blog posts.

I am experiencing and have experienced a lot of emotions over the past 10 weeks at my school and 1 week of officially having resigned. My current net feeling is relief. No regrets. The only thing I feel guilty about is the lack of regret which I feel.

I did not blog during my period of resigning because I did feel guilty and, to be honest, pretty depressed, ashamed, and fully of self-pity. I worried over my kids and my former coworkers. I worried about my own future and questioned my capabilities.

It's impossible to package and write about my 10-week teaching experience at my school in such a way that explains an inevitable decision to quit. Those ten weeks do not have a single, traceable story line with a conflict, climax, and resolution. Rather:
  • I had some students who loved me and said I was their favorite teacher
  • I had many days that I called in sick because I either genuinely fell ill due to the stresses of work or I was too stressed/tired to show up to work
  • I had many coworkers with whom I developed very close relationships
  • There were many, many days that I cried after schools. Some days I cried before school and in between classes. I always stressed out on Sundays. There were also some days when I felt so-so. 
  • I found a lot of systems that did not work, and a few which I was slowly honing and refining
Instructionally speaking, there's no way that anyone can be "ready" to teach in their first year of teaching. I wasn't. That's fine. But I was also not emotionally and mentally prepared for this particular position at this time in the school's development and at this time in my life. That is the bottom line.

I thought it was part of the job to hyperventilate on Sunday evenings and dread coming to work every day. I started developing bad teaching habits. I was sure that I was going to become a bitter, unmotivated, resentful teacher whose only claim to success is that I didn't quit.

Well, I did quit. I needed to get out of the space. I did not stop to hash out a plan for what comes next. I'm trying to get myself invigorated by the open-endedness of my life right now. I will keep moving and   I will resist the urge to define myself by my failures. I need to keep moving in order to continue creating opportunities for myself.

Meanwhile, I'm taking in healthy doses of all things that make me feel good. I've got nothing but time nowadays. I've been reading, watching TV and movies, working out, getting sunlight, cleaning, writing, enjoying the company of good friends, and dreaming up possibilities for my near future. I have to believe that I'm on the right path towards something really good.


Going for a Walk

I went for a run today... I got about halfway through and then started walking. The day was gorgeous and the wind felt nice. I did not tear myself down for not running. I let myself enjoy the walk. I did not think myself a lesser person. I'm not here to impress anyone. I need to enjoy my life because no one else is going to enjoy it for me.

Strength, wisdom, humility, perspective, and patience is not pushing oneself in search of one's breaking point, in hopes of self-gratification in the form of masochism.

More later.


Mom says... Getting through it does not have to mean suffering through it... But rather taking steps to take care of myself while time passes.

Time will pass.. But how will i spend my time in the meantime? It's up to me.

i already knew that my hours spent working outside of work would be less productive and less efficient than if i were a veteran teacher... I
Think that for now, i need to also spend less time outside of work working than i want... I will not feel bad for cutting myself off...

Every time that i feel down, i need to remind myself that i've felt down before and then i got through it. I've wanted quit before, but i didnt... I got through it. This is that moment, too. Im sitting here, blogging on my phone... Wanting to quit teaching... But i wont quit. Just  like last time.

Every time that i feel down about not getting all the work done that i need to get done, life goes on anyway. This anxiety that i feel right now... This is that moment, too. Life will go on this time just like it did last time.

I need to remember the light at the end of the tunnel, even when my eyes are cast downward, even when the light is too small to see. The light is not three years of teaching experience, the light is not the end of my first year of teaching... But rather  it's the small moments of clarity that follow each instance of wanting to quit. When i start to lose sight of things, when i start to think about quitting all over again, i need to remember that that feeling will go away if i just go for a run or call a loved one. This moment will pass. I refuse to lose myself in self-pity.

I want this job to feel rewarding, yes... The only way it will be rewarding, though, is if it were hard first. This is the hard part. I will get through it.


I am a Middle School Teacher in Oakland, Hear me Roar. Or Cry.

I barely managed to survive Week 9 of school. OK, so I'm being dramatic. A bit. That's my problem, of course. I exaggerate my problems. A bit. I think.

Another teacher has quit at our school. That's four down in 9 weeks. According to my unofficial and hasty calculations, a quarter of our teachers have quit.

I am the 75%.

Ha. Ha.

If I were to write a "Chronicles of my First Year Teaching in Oakland" book, it would not be a heartwarming, inspirational Oprah's book club book turned Oscar-nominated, based-on-a-true-story-starring-Jennifer-Garner movie. It would be pitiful and neurotic, teeming with baseless resentment with a touch of self-loathing.

I might become a bitter, hateful, un-teaching teacher. I wouldn't know when I crossed the line that separates green teacher with a bleeding heart and... well, sucky teacher. For now, I will push through Year 1 telling myself that I am as bitter and downtrodden as every first year urban middle school teacher there ever was. 

= = =

If I were to quit my job, I'd sell all my things and move in with my parents in Hawaii. HOW AWESOME WOULD THAT BE?! I'd get a job doing whatever... doesn't really matter. Anything to pay off my loans and dinner and lunch for the day. 

I'd go running every day.

I'd read books on the beach.

I'd probably be a little depressed.

I'd wonder about how my kids are doing... the ones who were nice to me, anyway.

I'd get to do my laundry (without having to scrounge for quarters) in my parents' nice washing machine. I'd separate my clothes according to its differing dryer needs rather than throwing them all in one load and hoping for the best.

I'd get a tan.

I'd have hour-long lunches with my mom during her lunch hour. We'd watch recorded Filipino soap operas with her at night and, let's be honest, on the weekends, too.

I'd get sick of Honolulu Cookies, the best cookies on the planet.

I'd go to the shooting range with my dad. We'd look for a new hobby; we'd consider digital photography, pinhole photography, golf, and water sports; we'd buy new equipment, try the hobby once, try it again three weeks later, and then forget about it altogether.

I'd go bike riding once in the hot, humid weather and decide that I don't like bike riding in Hawaii.

I wouldn't have any friends.

I'd want to go back to school as a student, but not to study anything in particular, only to have guided, thought-provoking readings and half-assed A+ papers because that's how I roll.

I'd miss the city scene of gentrified Oakland and the annoying self-righteousness of the Bay Area with all it's delicious and over-priced goods at the local farmers' markets.

I'd blog all day about nothing interesting, but feel good about it anyway.

I'd kiss my dreams of traveling the world during paid holidays, funded by a decent living wage earned all on my own, goodbye.

= = =

I'm writing a long, meandering blog entry because I am giving myself an emotional massage in order to pry myself out of my stressed-out emotional rut. 

I took a mini vacation this morning by: going to bed at 4AM despite my fatigue and better judgement; I got out of bed at 10AM to meet up with girlfriends; lounged by the Lake Merritt farmers market while eating expensive wholesome food and kneading lush, green grass and marveling at the uncharacteristically hot and sunny October Bay Area weather...

I vegged out in front of the TV by myself for 2 hours, finished a book, started a new book, started a load of laundry, stalked people on Facebook, and am now blogging...

I'm trying to fill my head with noise to sever myself from the stresses of work... that is, until I absolutely have to face said stresses again, starting tomorrow. Sunday. Lesson planning and grading day. Whoo.

This blog post does not belong in a blog titled "Quest for Inspiration". Or maybe it does. Whatever. Here it is.


Forget keeping my head above water -- first year teaching is like trying to build a ship while stranded in the middle of the ocean... and trying to keep 160 students afloat on said ship (plus myself).

Supposedly, 2nd year teaching is miles easier than 1st year teaching. I also assume that things gradually get better over this first year leading into the second year. Improvement is not a step-wise function. I think.

It's Week 9, and in a tiny, tiny way, Week 9 teaching is easier than Week 3 teaching.

I haven't quite pinpointed what has made it easier, but my hours spent working are more productive and efficient now than it was 6, 7, and 8 weeks ago. Whoo.

I am letting myself down in several ways that I cannot blame the kids for. I have an ideal classroom and lesson in mind and have never come anywhere near my mental image. I'm still getting my ish together in terms of figuring out what to teach 6th graders. I am just now understanding "I do, We do, You do". I am just now wrapping my head around procedures and am nowhere near successfully (100%) implementing procedures. I'm practicing staying patient with students, exerting my authority on students, being consistent and explicit in my expectations... yeah, all that stuff.

I don't do great every day. In fact, I kinda suck every day. But I'm moving forward an inch at a time. I'm learning. I'm learning the hard way, but the best way. I'm trying not to permanently damage any students along the way.

One last thing -- just when I had another round of "screw it, what's the point anyway?" failure feeling wash over me, I received a text message from a former student of mine thanking me for helping him in chemistry. This was a year ago and I had almost forgotten about him because we only had a few tutoring sessions here and there... I pulled him out of class once, went over homework at a cafe after school twice, and took him home once. One year later, he thanks me telling me that it meant a lot to him...

It's the small things. I gotta teach for the small things right now. Maybe the small things will lead to big things one day... that one day is neither here nor now. That text message was a thank you for a small thing; that text message is a here and now. I'm teaching for the small things.

Alright, Week 9. Let's do this.



'Tis the season to be restful.

The two main charges that my coworkers and bosses gave me for this fall break is to 1) rest and 2) lesson plan. Grades are also due right before we get back, so of course this means grading and entering/finalizing grades.

On top of all that, I want to make about a million system changes, but fall break is only 1 week long: hardly enough time for 1 million system changes.

= = =

Tomorrow is only Tuesday of fall break and my tummy is already queasy thinking about the rest of the semester. And school year. 

I am currently living the hardest year of my teaching career. Isn't that crazy?! Possibly my life. Hah. However hard things are right now... that this is basically as hard as it gets. And lemme tell you... it's hella freaking hard. Every day feels like battle. Every night feels like preparing for battle after having fought a battle. Every weekend is spent recounting the previous week's battles in hopes of conjuring up new strategies for the week following. 

I'm living the hardest year of my career and yet here I am ready to return to school come Monday. Bring it. I need to get the other end of the year one way or another, and as far as I know, the only way to get to the end of the year is to teach through it. No way around it. The year is going to be messy and ugly, but come what may, it will happen. And I'll inch along in my progress along the way -- I don't have to wait until year 2 to get better because I get better with each week.

I'm living the hardest year of my career and yet I am not giving up. That's awesome. I'm awesome. Yes. Go me.
Things will get better, slowly but surely.


My Sub-20-Miler

~19.2 mi in ~3:45.

Today was the best I've ever ran in distance and in pace. I only stopped a couple of times for water; other than that, I kept up a 10min/mi pace for the first time ever on a long run. 

That is, except for the last two miles. I stopped into Sports Authority to buy (and down) a couple of packs of Mint Chocolate Gu (love that stuff). Afterwards, my right knee totally gave out. I had no phone and no money for the bus, so I had no choice but to start walking home on a bum knee.

As I hobbled down San Pablo, an old man with a cane approached me and commented wistfully on my bad knee. That was kinda funny to me, despite the fact that I felt so pathetic.

All movement was painful, but I tried running rather than walking anyway because I figured if I was going to go home in pain, I might as well get there sooner. After 1 block, my knee gave in from under me, though, causing me to nearly fall over, so I slowed down and continued limping.

I prayed to God for a friend to drive by and spot me in order to give me a ride home.

And my prayers were answered. Two blocks after my prayer was sent to the heavens, I crossed an intersection and heard a voice call out to me. Tony Wu was in the car waiting at the intersection. HALLELUJAH. This is the boy whom I have not seen in months and months, and there was he to my rescue. He took me home and all was well.

Thank you, God. And Tony Wu.