Monday, October 15, 2012

New Story-Adam Wooten!

Hey friends. I thought I'd get a jump on the week and get this post in early!  Although let's be real, there was only the slimmest of chances that I would post anything on a Tuesday.  But maybe I will, and I'm just trying to lure you into a state of complacency, only to (WHAM) surprise you with my promptness! That's how it's done, folks.  

Anyway, enough with the preamble!  Here's Adam Wooten's story.  It's totally good.

Also, he is the only person I've ever met from Oklahoma, and that's fun! Except for Curly from the musical Oklahoma!, who  I have met in my dreams.

How have you changed since coming to AmeriCorps?

There are things that I knew I could do, that it’s forced me to have to do. Like talking in front of people and commanding a classroom. Doing this made me become comfortable in that atmosphere and now I have no fear about doing it in the future. Oh, and patience as well. ‘Cause, God, I was a very stubborn, impatient person and it’s taught me a lot about that. Laughs. I mean, being able to work with middle school kids and not strangle them on an everyday basis, is a testament to your patience. And learning better ways to deal with unruly kids besides just yelling at them. I don’t know, my dad was a big yeller--all I really knew was berating people.  I can’t fault him for it because that’s all he knew from growing up.  But,  [AmeriCorps] definitely taught me impulse control and patience.
more after the jump!

How have your goals changed?

I had a lot of ideas of where I wanted to go in a career, but it wasn’t until I came here that I was sure that I wanted to teach. And it took a little bit – it took a couple months, because at first it was like, oh my God, I’m just getting run all over by these kids. This room is a zoo.

What do your friends and family thing about AmeriCorps?

Um, well they didn’t really understand what it was. I told them it was like Teach for America because everyone knew what Teach for America was, and coming from Oklahoma, AmeriCorps isn’t very big there. Really, volunteer service isn’t very big, or giving back – they’re very business minded people. They care about money. The majority of my friends... that’s all they could see.

Do you think that’s Oklahoma or that’s our generation?

Our generation is a lot to do with it. It’s all we’ve seen growing up. I mean our parents were part of the economic boom with Regan, and what they were so adamant about was make money. Economy. Now, now, now. And all we see with more advertisements and stuff, I can see now, that’s a generational thing. My parents were never really like that – they were more frugal. We traveled a lot but we never lived outside of our means…

Describe an influential character in your year.
I had this teacher-- He was one of my AVID teachers and he really just took me under his wing, especially when he found out that I was interested in teaching. And he was a history teacher so we were able to talk about history and vent about the world…. He was really just someone that everyday just supported me, no matter what. He would always talk to me about what to do, and why certain students acted this way.

If you could give next year’s members a bit of advice, what would it be?

Really, just investing yourself in the emotional problems of students, because I just see that break people down too much. It’s hard not to get emotional when you see someone who doesn’t have food in the morning or comes from a homeless family, but just to focus on the education, focus on trying to show them that you show up everyday and that education is important so that they can escape that situation, and not so much focus on trying to solve all of their emotional issues….

What was the hardest thing for you to adjust to?

The emotional aspect – the openness. Because I just came from somewhere where that was really was never something I became accustomed to. People being open and sharing their feelings. ‘Cause my friends would never be like that, and my family even – we were never very open about, “I feel this way”.  And so Monda’s – the way she ran things – it was different than anything I’d ever seen before. It was hard to become accustomed to – it still is. I still feel a little uncomfortable. But I’ve become better at it.

Especially in dealing with the kids. At first I would just say, oh God, this kid is just a pain in my rear. But then, when I started digging deeper into the emotional levels of why he was acting that way, it helped me better understand it. And I wasn’t so quick to jump to conclusions  when getting mad at a kid. And I guess that’s something that I learned quickly here.

So that was hard to adjust to. Do you think now you’re more inclined to…pontificate on why I feel a certain way in a certain situation and working to adjust those feelings?

Yeah, I would say so. In work and in life too, I’m trying to say what’s on my mind and try to express what I’m having problems with, instead of just bottling it like I used to. I used to just never say a word and I’ve become a lot better now, and I think it’s helped my relationships with people grow better because of it.
And I’ve gotten better about apologizing and being sincere about it – and not just being a sarcastic person. That was another thing – the no sarcasm [rule]. ‘Cause, god, all I’ve ever known is sarcasm and being cynical about things. You are so accustomed to that life of just – well there are more cynical people than not, especially in the current day and age we’re in. It’s like – don’t trust anyone, everyone’s in it for themselves. And it’s nice to be somewhere, where that isn’t the general thought for once.  It was very refreshing to have that. To hear people talk so openly. Even though I wasn’t able to do it, it was nice to hear other people jump up and express themselves so openly.

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