My Letter to Myself

Almost a year ago on the first day of pre-service training for NYC Teaching Fellows I was asked to write a letter to myself. I would receive it later once I was actually teaching. Today it arrived.

I was a bit apprehensive at first when I took the letter from my mailbox. What kind of obnoxiously naive words had my past self written for me? Reading, I was pleasantly surprised by how realistic my expectations were, for myself and the experience as a whole. Here is my letter to myself:

Dear Ruben,
Holy shit what did I get myself into? It's hard trying not to be melodramtic, but I'm on the verge of a panic attack. I am completely unprepared for what is coming, but nonetheless, here I am.
How am I supposed to be a teacher? To be responsible for the learning and achievement of some 25 kids facing the worst obstacles imaginable? How am I supposed to be responsible, patient, thoughtful, dynamic, compassionate, authoritative, strong and energetic every day for a whole school year? I don't even know what I'm doing here.
Everyone else
[in the Teaching Fellows program] seems guided by a very specific purpose. All I know is I want to do something good, to make a positive change in the world. It's so vague and probably not enough to make me a good teacher. I'm worried that despite the idealism that made me choose this path, I don't have enough to make it to the end. I'm scared cynicism will take over and I'll fail. I hope when you read this you laugh and have proved me wrong. Go out and change the world!

I guess what surprises me reading this letter 10 months after writing it, is that my questions were spot on. I question myself and my ability to fulfill those many roles every day. What strengthens me is that I haven't failed, I haven't given up and I have given in to cynicism. I haven't and I won't. Meanwhile, there's still tiem to figure out how to be responsible, patient, thoughtful, dynamic, compassionate, authoritative, strong and energetic.


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