Olubunmi Fashusi is a member of the 2011 Teach For America-Baltimore corps.
“Sooooooo, what are you doing next year?”
In the past few weeks, I’ve been asked that question more times than I can count. Each time, my breathing becomes a little shorter and I feel like I’m having a mild panic attack. If only I could spin around a few times and turn into a pile of golden dust like Michael Jackson did in his “Do You Remember the Time?” video. As an alternative, I’m considering carrying a king-sized Twix with me everywhere I go. That way, I can stuff one of the bars into my mouth and make incomprehensible noises while pretending to try to answer the question and secretly praying that my barbaric eating habits disgust my inquisitor to the point that he or she runs away.
If these nosy individuals could read my mind, all they would see is a big, fat question mark. Though I don’t look forward to the anxiety I experience when asked about my future plans, I’m secretly thankful once my pseudo-anxiety attack ends. The question forces me to think about next year.
“Do I want to continue teaching ESOL at my school?” I’ve developed great relationships with my students, their parents, and the teachers and administrators at my school. I wonder if and how I could have a bigger impact, though. Could I grow even more at another school with additional professional development opportunities? What impact could I have working for an education reform organization like Teach For America? I go back and forth about whether to remain in the classroom. At this point, I want to stay. I also debate whether to stay in Baltimore or move back to Brooklyn to work in my old community.
My biggest challenge will be considering my personal and professional interests, and the best interest of my students. How will my decision impact their lives?
These questions about my future plans bring me back to my senior year of college. The only difference is that by October of that year, I already knew what I wanted to do. I had noticed the Teach For America posters and recruiters all over Carolina’s campus since my sophomore year. By my final October, I understood what the acronym TFA stood for and I had submitted my application. I wanted to join an organization striving to provide an excellent education to all students.
Deciding my fate for next year would be so much easier if my school looked like my college campus did, with recruiters for companies and organizations around every corner.
Alas, that’s not the reality for me or any teacher. I’ll just have to settle for searching for jobs online and through word-of-mouth. As the school year progresses, I’ll continue asking myself these important questions. Answering them will help me figure out what I want to do next year, and where I want to be doing it.