Here’s the happy part…
In first grade, I realized my dream job was to become a teacher. In college, I had some awesome professors (and some not so awesome) and (for the most part) great observation experiences.
That’s where the “happy” ends for a bit…
My best friend and I stumbled upon a teaching position for a new 1st-12th grade private school. We both applied, interviewed together, and scored a position to begin in December. We were taking over for an ineffective staff member. Sounds happy right? We thought so too.
At this particular school we were those most highly qualified teachers, at least in terms of the education field, and we were still in COLLEGE!!! At least two different staff members, the principal and a high school teacher, ridiculed us and called us “cute” for wanting standards-based instruction, student conferences, holding students to a higher standard, educating the whole child, and implementing interactive projects and school-wide field trips.
If that wasn’t difficult enough. We were questioned by a board member as to why we got paid the same as every other staff member but left for an hour twice a week for college classes. This is a situation we cleared during our interviews and elected to have two hours of study hall a week for our classes. On the surface this last comment doesn’t sound so bad EXCEPT we made $800 a month BEFORE TAXES!
Unfortunately, I finished out a year and a half before I had to leave in order to student teach. My best friend was stronger than I was and left sooner in the year to pursue her career in another state.
Another happy part (I promise!)…
Student teaching was a blast! I was able to work with one of my old middle school teachers.
Then, it was time to teach, again (not so happy)…
A charter school tried to get me to leave student teaching due to an emergency opening but my university wouldn’t allow it. Surprisingly, they still held my position and I began in December, right before I walked for graduation. On the surface, this was my ideal school – teachers of all experience levels, collaborative PLC groups, multiple professional development opportunities, whole child learning, school-wide book groups, mandatory community service for older students, mandatory parental involvement at least once a year, student-led conferences, and more. The pay was even what I wanted: base pay for a qualified teacher in my state. They hired me as a long-term substitute until my certifications came through and then changed my pay for the rest of the year.
Sounds ideal right? I thought so too! My first half a year didn’t go too badly. It was a learning curve but I got complimented by parents and staff. Honestly, to this day I think my students behaved relatively well because of their teacher that was forced to leave. No structure, changing rules, disrespectful, unprofessional, and so on. She was teaching SECOND GRADERS! They aren’t old enough to know better when they have a bad teacher. (oh, and she wasn’t a “new” teacher) I think my students were happy to have someone there who cared about them and tried their best to be engaging and consistent. The only major bump in the road at this point was a set of parents who had decided to hate me unreasonably.
The next year, same school, I changed classrooms but not grades. This was the TOUGHEST group of students I had EVER experienced (even to this day). They normally spread them out more but since my partner the previous year left, they gave them to me because they didn’t know who would fill the other position… A quarter way through the year (or earlier), I knew I was struggling. I asked my administration for help. They said sure! AND THEN DIDN’T DO ANYTHING! Even after reminders, they didn’t come back until wintertime… then they told ME that I had classroom management issues!!!!!!!!!!!! I told them (even as shy as I was at this point) that I had asked for help and none was given. “Well, at this point we need to put you on an improvement plan.”
And with that, respected peers, I will leave you until next time. Even writing this got my heart rate going. Need some closure on what happened? I will tell you the full story in the next post but essentially it was bittersweet. It didn’t end well but I learned a lot about myself.
Teaching In Public