The MEGnitude of Change

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 02 2012

My mom always, always takes a picture on the first day of school. Today was no exception.

Over this past week, I have had the great fortune of having my mom around. She has stood next to me through everything: the first full day at my school site, the stocking up of school supplies, the obligatory weekend-before-school-starts-freak-outs, the very first day of classes. While I prepared my classroom, she has helped make my house a home by unpacking boxes, buying groceries, doing laundry. Doing Mom stuff.

It’s hard not to feel a little bit guilty to accept all of her unsolicited help — what do I have to offer in return? No amount of “thank you”s feels like enough. I stay late at the office, and admittedly, much of her time with me has been spent assuaging my fears. I have not been able to give her the best of myself. My mom’s actions tell me this — when you love someone, you give to them openly, willingly, without needing anything back. She helps so that, although I’m not feeling 100% my best, she can get me to 60%, 70%, even that magic 80% (mastery, that is). She tells me that it’s her job to help me settle into my home, so that I can do my job.

In so many ways, my mom has been my role model.

We give to our students because we care about them, because we genuinely believe in them. We give our time and our energy — running around to make copies, thinking through lesson plans, whatever the case may be. We care.

Tonight, I will be able to go to bed feeling good, but not because my very first day of school was perfect. It was full of bumps & surprises, and I can barely imagine the heft of the work ahead of me. Tonight, however, I carry with me a simple phrase that my mom offered so freely while giving me a hug: “I’m so proud of you.” This week, I have been able to accept my mother’s help so that I could pass that gift onto my students. So that I can better help them.

We are in such a unique position, and no matter what we felt today — tired, overwhelmed, excited, hopeful – we will remember to dig from someplace down deep to remember that we give so much more than our time or money. We give ourselves.

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My journey in mathematics and beyond


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