My Kind of Town (Chicago)

I have just arrived in Chicago for my first day of teacher boot camp, as Diva calls it. Since I can’t check in at my dorm until 1:00, I’ve headed to the downtown area to pick up some essentials from Walgreens, Macy’s and the like. My first impression is of space. I am in the central touristy, shopping area, near Millennium Park, and the streets are nearly empty. Maybe that’s because it’s a Sunday morning and most of the stores are closed; whatever the reason, it’s certainly a lot different than New York. On the bright side, the weather is pretty and the lack of people makes it easy for me to haul my luggage around! Walking around midtown Manhattan with a huge backpack and a roller bag would be hell.

Soon I will check in on campus and move into my dorm room. I have heard so much about this boot camp, from “it was awesome!” to “it was torture!”, so I really have no idea what to expect. I have developed something very unlikely: a mantra. (If Diva is reading this, she is laughing. She knows mantras are not very Molly.) One thing I think I failed at as an after-school educator this year was establishing a guiding culture in my classes. Most of the time my students and I just got started on projects without much preliminary discussion about what values would guide us. I’ve been thinking a lot about that, and in future years I hope to invest my students in what I’m currently calling the “Four Core Cs.” The mantra goes something like this:

Each day I will be…
1. Curious
2. Caring
3. Courageous
4. Committed

This summer, I envision the C’s manifesting as such: I will bring curiosity to every interaction at teacher camp, meaning that I will try to learn from and about my fellow TFAers, the staff at my school, and most importantly my students. I will be curious about Chicago and the community in which I’ll be teaching summer school.

I will care for my co-TFAers by offering support and encouragement. I will do the same for my students, and I will care for myself by getting rest and managing my time responsibly.

I will be courageous by challenging myself to use new strategies in the classroom, extending myself socially, and pushing myself to learn all the time.

I will commit myself to this experience fully, meaning that I will not let my skepticism take hold and temper my motivation.

I hope that writing all this down will serve as a reminder when I need it. Right now I don’t feel stressed. Mostly a travel-tired fog has settled over me, but I can’t wait to see what sorts of people I will meet later today and to find out where I’ll be teaching summer school.

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