These shoes were (not) made for walking...

So here I am, comfortably ensconced in my ridiculously overpriced yet quite nice hotel room. I spent my day in teacher training, learning all sorts of things about what I'm going to be teaching in the fall.

And all I could think about was: what the hell was I thinking??!!!

My other two fellow classmates (i.e., those people in the program with me) have resumes that simply blow me out of the water. One left a position researching at Columbia University. The other turned down a position at MIT to come. Both are around my age (mid-20s-ish). All I could think was: I left a toxic work environment! Yay me!

I am trying to calm myself down and say that they wouldn't have accepted me if they didn't think I was at least marginally qualified. And I do have way the hell more writing experience than either of them. But they're so freaking smart. Ditto with the rest of my colleagues preparing to teach various versions of this class. I'm just sitting there going "uh-huh, uh-huh" and trying to scrape my jaw up off the table. They talk about their own teaching experiences. I'm thinking: I haven't taught anything. I haven't come close to teaching anything.

And there remains this one teeny, tiny little fact: I've, um, never taken a college English class. I spent way too many hours writing for the school newspaper, but I learned from falling on my face, looking like an idiot, and taking steps to not look so idiotic the next time. Teaching someone how to construct an argument? I don't know. How do you do that? And how can you not do that?

Maybe that's a little arrogant of me, but I've been writing for so long that I've kind of lost touch with the beginning stages. It's like asking Lance Armstrong to teach a 5 year old how to ride a bike. And he would probably be frustrated (I would be) because it's so hard to get beyond that thought of: sit your arse down on the seat and start pedaling.


But that's kind of the way recovery was for me. You just pick up the fork and put it in your mouth. Easy as pie. (I don't know whether that pun was intended or not). But I didn't remember how to do that. Yes, I remembered how to use a fork. However, it was the very act of eating, the act of being hungry, the act of deciding that you were in fact hungry, deciding if you were going to eat, what you were going to eat, how to prepare it, and how to disable the smoke detector in time so your burnt toast doesn't mean your high-rise apartment will have to be evacuated.

I think that, actually, is giving me a good metaphor for how to approach this class. These kids (and they are kids to me...those little fresh college freshman I shall change thee) are assumed to know how to write. They had to write essays to get into college, so that they can reasonably construct a sentence is assumed. But how do you teach someone to write?

How do you help an anorexic relearn how to eat?

The plain answer is that I don't have a frigging clue. I will likely get frustrated with my students as my parents and treatment team have gotten frustrated with me. Just do it already. It's not that difficult. Just do it.

Break it down. Step by step. When I wrote my first book, I didn't think I could do it. In fact, I set about writing it just to prove my professor wrong. I didn't write a book. I wrote a sentence, a paragraph, a page, a chapter. Assembled the damn thing. Edited it. And so on. You don't write a book. You don't recover from an eating disorder. Those are your end results, but they're NOT the process.

Damn I'm getting profound. And here all I really wanted to write about was how my feet were ground into hamburger by ill-fitting clogs. So now I'm blistered and have reeking feet. Lovely.

That's me: waxing philosophic with really bad foot odor.


mary said...

Hope you don't think you have to compare yourself to anyone! Everyone brings something different to the table and you have your strengths as well. You are Carrie, remember? And you aren't there just because of what you know but because you have the great potential to learn. Soak it up!
Hope your feet got a good soaking tonight. Get some bandaids! Hope you brought another pair of shoes.
Hope you're having fun.

Tash said...

I'm not coming over the pond to lick you! That is just gross! ;O)

I found that patience was the biggest tool I had to learn in teaching. It is so important to learn how to teach the basics. I had so much difficulty trying to do that. (I was learning to teach drama for 11-18yr olds)

Sorry to state the obvious but it doesn't matter if your fellow teachers know more than you. You can indeed learn a whole lot from them. In fact I guarantee that you will learn a whole lot from your kids if you let yourself. Many people I trained with seemed to think they were the font of all knowledge and couldn't possibly learn from their kids. (I'm not suggesting you are one of these people by the way)

I still state that British hugs are the best!!! So have some more!!!


Tash x x x

Laura Collins said...

Teaching is a lot like being a Vaudeville performer: you go out and almost burst your heart with your best effort all in the hope that you reach at least one of the blank faces out there, then you get off the stage to gather your gumption to go do it again - each time you start over, each time you know it isn't about the crowd, it's that one person who will probably slip out the back with some gem you've offered and you'll never know the influence you had.

Kinda like recovery, I guess. Meal by meal, like you said.

You'll teach well. You'll learn more about yourself than they will. I envy your students!!

mary said...

I couldn't agree with Tash more on the learning from your students bit. The very best teachers I've know have found that they never stop learning from their kids and from others. Of course they share their knowledge too but mostly to guide and challenge themselves and their students to think. Again, you can offer your best by just being yourself and always reminding yourself of the honor it is to be in such a sacred place as being able to affect the lives of others, be your students young or old and letting them affect you. I'm not a 'teacher' but I've worked with special ed kids as a substitute. I already know what a gift and honor it was to know and work with some of them.
You can't do and be anyone but yourself so slow down and be yourself. Give of yourself. Can this be enough? To be you?
I hope so Carrie, cause kid's can see right through a phony. Trust yourself. You're the real deal. /*
Going barefoot today?
an weaker but nonetheless american hug
hee hee

Willow said...

Well said! You taught me something, so I guess you do know how to be a teacher.

Anonymous said...

I think you'll be a wonderful teacher. You're clearly thinking a lot about this, so you'll teach with plenty of TLC. That's a quality I admired of the teachers I learned from and enjoyed the most.

Tash said...

I meant to give you a hug not myself (tho I definately needed some last night)


Tash x x x

carrie said...

I'm back home and breathing. Totally revamped the course. I keep tweaking it, back and forth, back and forth.

Alas, my cat is trying to sleep on the keyboard, so I think I shall have to relinquish it to her.

And tash? (((((((HUGS))))))

Connie said...

Carrie, I just found your blog today. It's so honest and inspiring. I'm 17 and recovering from anorexia (just left residential for the second time to get me back on my feet). I was wondering, where did you go for residential? That whole thing with the journals sounds terrible and I'm so sorry you had to go through that - I know it could have definitely hindered my recovery. I looved the place I went and without having gone there, would literally have no idea how to take care of myself. Take care!

carrie said...


I was in treatment at the Center for Hope of the Sierras in Reno, NV.

All the best to you.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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