Yesterday I completed a major step in my development as a teacher and progress to working in China. I finished a 4 part project that proves to the State of California that I am capable of being a teacher. The Teaching Performance Assessment (TPA) is a project every teacher in California must complete in order to earn a teaching credential. It is notoriously time-consuming and arduous to produce. And in order to work on this project, I have spent no fewer than 4 hours at least 4 days of every week for the past 4 months in my town’s public libraries to work on it.
This project was probably the most difficult work-related task I have had to complete. It is not interesting nor fun nor does it feel necessary. Merely opening the document on my computer was difficult. Keeping myself focused while the mysteries and wonders of the world outside of the TPA beckoned was the most difficult part of completing it for me.
I so badly wanted to escape this responsibility–this burden. And on many days, I did. Some days I would explore the internet or play Civ with the project open in the background. On days with better impulse control, I sat in the library and forced myself not to open reddit or to play a game. On more than a few occasions, I sat in front of an empty screen waiting for the will to begin typing.
When I left the library, I often felt deep anxiety about not being able to complete it. That anxiety would whisper seductively that my future would fall apart if I didn’t finish and that I wasn’t even capable of finishing it. I sat at home with my stomach in knots angry that I did not finish enough that day and worried–perpetually stressed–that I couldn’t finish.
I will stop myself there before this post turns into a rant about how much I hated this project. But suffice it to say this:
It took me 77,681 words on 184 pages to answer all of the questions the state of California asked me.
But I am now finished with it.
I know this all may feel dramatic or hyperbolized, but I am trying to describe as accurate as possible my experience with this project. It was painful. It was difficult. I do not feel like it made me a better teacher. But I had to do it and I did.
I wish I had worked harder on it and more efficiently. I wish I had not procrastined so much on it. I wish I had done a million little things better. But I am doing what I can to not dwell in that muddy pool of self-depreciation. I really want to feel proud of myself for pushing myself to the library all those many days and for pushing myself to continue typing on the days I managed it and for pushing the final submission button yesterday. I want to acknowledge that I did accomplish something and allow myself to enjoy this moment of success–a treat I so rarely allow myself.