Posts tagged ‘Phoenix Institute’

July 8, 2011

Worst. Flight. Ever.

Two weeks ago I was working on lesson plans and just decided to go home for the following 3 day weekend.  I hadn’t planned to visit home anytime soon, but I really needed a break from Institute life.  Airfares were okay, so within half an hour, I had booked a red eye flight home for the upcoming Friday.  I had to work my ass off all week to make sure I had as little to do as possible once I came home.  This included using our surprise afternoon off for additional lesson planning…boo.  I didn’t get all I wanted to done, but I got a good start on most things.  Friday came soon enough, and by 11:50 pm, I was on my connecting flight to Atlanta, ready for the three day pseudo-break.

It must have been about an hour into the flight that we got the snack and beverage service.  I had apple juice and pretzels, and then tried to get as comfortable as possible in the middle seat (in an exit row, so I had a lot of leg room).  I was fine, but then suddenly had a huge wave of nausea hit me.  I never get sick like this, so I tried to just sit through it, but within minutes decided I had to get up and get to a bathroom ASAP.  There was no way I was going to throw up in front of people.

I stood up fast and hit my head on the ceiling.  This didn’t phase me much because I was focused more on my destination.  I remember being behind this guy walking SO SLOWLY in the aisle, and when he finally sat down, I made my way forward.  I kept hitting almost every seat, which should have been a red flag, but about 8 steps away from the bathroom, I felt myself crumple to the floor.  The last thing I remember was hearing everybody gasp and get up around me and then I must have blacked out.

When I opened my eyes, there were a few passengers around me and a couple flight attendants.  One of the flight attendants said I fainted and then had a seizure.  WHAT???  I remember thinking, “Oh, this is a dream.  Wait, no, this is real.  Yes, I remember falling and now I am on the floor in front of a plane full of people.  Greaaaaaaaaaat.”  They asked me my name and age, and I also gave them my seat number for good measure (I had this urgent need to prove that I was okay).  I told them what led up to falling while I mentally asked myself the following questions:

Did I throw up? ::Checks face, clothes, and floor:: No.

Am I clothed? Yes.

Does anything hurt? My knee, kind of.

Did they have to shoot me with some type of shot to wake me?  I don’t think so.

Two of the passengers with me were physicians, and they had a brief debate whether I actually had a seizure and why I would have collapsed.  The same flight attendant who told me I had a seizure started talking about how planes can have weird effects on us.  I was like lady, I just flew to Russia and back, and China and back the year before.  I got this plane thing down (or at least I did).  Then she said alcohol can make it worse.  I told her I hadn’t had any alcohol for a week at least, and she stopped talking.  The group around me on the floor finally decided that this was probably a combination of dehydration and exhaustion, and eventually my “seizure” was downgraded to just shaking.

The minute I had regained consciousness I felt fine.  I didn’t feel nauseous, and I was able to get up and go back to my seat without any help.  I was just mortified about the whole incident, and still had about an hour left to go on the plane.  Just FYI, there is nowhere you can hide on a plane.  I did suffer minor bruising on my knee and face, but otherwise was left fairly unscathed.  The paramedics checked me out when I got off the plane, and reported that my blood sugar, blood pressure, and pulse were fine.  They thought it was ridiculous that I was told I had a seizure because I wouldn’t have been aware right afterwards if that was the case.

Despite being fine, the experience was really traumatizing.  TFA Institute staff always says to take care of yourself, but it’s really difficult when the expectations are so high here.  No matter how far ahead I get, I always have something that I have to be working on.  Luckily, we only have a week left and then my time will be mostly my own again.  I’ve never felt like I couldn’t push myself just a little more, but apparently even I have a limit.  My goals for this week involved drinking (non-alcoholic drinks) and sleeping more, both of which I’ve been able to more or less accomplish.

I haven’t cried almost at all since induction started, but I had way too much time to think on my way back to Phoenix.  A few tears came out quietly when I let myself think about everything I force myself to bottle away when I am here to keep it together.  Most heartbreaking of all?  Remembering how happy I was on that roof in Russia with Nikita.  I boxed up those feelings when I drove to Oklahoma, but they’re definitely still with me all the time.  His package is also MIA in Russia right now (USPS tracking status just says “Arrival at Post Office June 15 RUSSIA”…that’s specific).  I haven’t lost all hope that he’ll get it, but I’m thinking it’s likely I’ll see it returned before he would ever see it.  As long as it isn’t lost forever, I suppose that will have to do.  Please think positive postal service thoughts in the meantime ❤

June 25, 2011

Yes, I’m alive.

As you can see from the title, I haven’t completely fallen off the face of the Earth.  I’m teetering on the edge occasionally, but I’ve managed to stay grounded her at the Phoenix Institute thanks to a really good group of friends.  Brianna, Natalie, Victoria, Dante, Chelsea, Angela, Katie…and several others, you guys have all helped me find sanity these past couple weeks, and for that I am grateful : )

For those of you who have not experienced Teach For America Institute training, just FYI, IT’S HARD.  My typical schedule last week looked like this:

5:45 AM- Wake up, get ready to go, pack up all the materials I will need for class.

6:30 AM- Get in the “Pack Your Lunch Line” and then go to Breakfast.

7:00 AM- Bus ride to the school I’m teaching at.

7:30 AM- Get classroom ready, sign-in, turn in final copies of lesson plans, meet with my Faculty Advisor, report to morning duty, etc.  These tasks vary depending on the day of the week.

8:30 AM- Class begins. Spend first hour teaching procedures or testing students for diagnostic data.

9:30 AM- Report to info session about a teaching topic.

11:00 AM- Free time to enter in student data and prepare for lessons (so not really free time…).

11:30 AM- Teaching block begins, including an hour of support teaching, taking the kids to lunch, and then an hour of lead teaching (this week’s subject: Math!).

2:00 PM- Report to 2, hour and a half info sessions on more teaching topics.

5:10 PM- All school meeting including short reflections and logistic info.

5:30 PM- Bus ride back to Arizona State University.

6:00 PM- Dinner at the dining hall.

6:30 PM- Shower and pack up bag to work on lessons in the computer lab.

7:15 PM- Arrive at computer lab to write and revise lesson plans, make and print worksheets, try to stay awake, etc.

11:30 PM- Leave computer lab to go back to dorm.

12:00 PM- Sleep.


Having this typical schedule has been rough.  Especially trying to get through a day this packed on only about 5-6 hours of sleep.  But as I said, having some good friends helps.  We vent, we go on mini-food outings (frozen yogurt- yes please!), and see who can look more zombie-ish during late night lesson plans.

You know what else helps?  The kids I’m actually teaching.  I LOVE being in the classroom.  I was a bit afraid my students would dislike me because I’m more of a hard ass than my fellow teachers, but just as my advisor said would happen, my kids love me for my own style, too.  I think I’m pretty good at designing lessons to keep students engaged, and I’m also good at keeping the class in line (though our class consequence system needs some work).  I already know I’m going to miss these kids a lot when we leave Phoenix.  I’ve had them for math all week, and next week we switch to reading.  Should be a refreshing change, but we’ll see.

I never thought I’d say this, but my focus this week is improving my time management.  I need to get more work done on the weekends to free up my week.  As much as I need a day off, I need sleep more.  But before I dive into lessons, a big group of us are going out to see Bad Teacher.  I’m thinking it will be very therapeutic : )

For all my friends and family I haven’t talked to, I miss you like crazy.  I’m three hours behind Orlando, and that combined with my busy schedule makes it very hard to keep in touch.  If you can, please send me anything- post it note messages, letters, “Hang in There” Kitty posters…I really could use all the support I can get:

Kelly Schrumpf/Teach For America
Mailbox #2228
711 E. Lemon Street
Tempe, AZ 85281

I promise to send something back.  Maybe I can start writing letters on the bus ride home?