It just occurred to me the other day that part of the reason this teaching thing is so problematic is that I really don’t know what I’m doing. I’m teaching Algebra I for the first time, but I’ve never actually seen a veteran math teacher successfully teach an inner-city math class. Or even just an average, experienced teacher. I recently likened it to the following scenario:
“Imagine you have flown on an airplane before, and so you are aware of the basic process of airplane flight. You have also been given a crash course on the principles of airplane flight, and you have been allowed to control the a small plane for brief periods of time. Then…they throw you into the cockpit of a 747 and tell you to fly it across the country, through stormy weather, with air traffic control screaming at you the whole time, with part of the flight crew missing, and with the knowledge that arrival at the destination is literally a life or death proposition for about half of your passengers. But don’t worry! They’ll teach you what you need to know, once you get it in the air. Also, the passengers are freaking out, so they’re going to need you to constantly make sure they’re under control and reassure them that everything’s fine. Oh, and by the way, not all of the equipment functions, but don’t worry, they’ve got a guy working on it. It might be ready half way through”
I’m sure the scenario sounds absurd, but I bet most people who are doing programs like TFA would agree that it would be fairly accurate, if only there was a proper analog to trying to be a full-time grad student while flying the plane. Every now and then I feel like I make the tiniest bit of progress, but I’ve got a long way to go to even get to the point where I’m minimally competent. This job sure would probably be impossible to wake up for if I didn’t know it was so crucial. It’s not fun the vast majority of the time, but still, I don’t regret it a bit.