Saturday, June 13, 2009

Upon Completion of My First Year of Teaching

Last week I finished my first year of teaching. I am supremely proud of myself and of the things I have learned in the year. I was a long term substitute and I was basically thrown to the wolves. I didn't mind. As I explained to the Dean of my department, I have been thrown to the wolves all my life for much less. This time, my lesson in sinking or swimming was about my new career and it was particularly fitting that it began in the way it did.

I have learned a lot about myself and other people in the last year. I wanted to take this time to share a couple of them with you.

1. There will be haters everywhere you go.
Using the term "haters" is not the most academic, but it is the most applicable to my situation. In fact, it is applicable to most employment situations. I have/had (I don't have a contract for the fall as of yet) this one woman who tried her hardest to break me. At one point, she did. She berated me so bad over something so small, I ended up in tears. Because she is a big fat meanie head, this made her very happy. When I got home and told my mother, she warned me that all this woman was trying to do was to intimidate me and, ultimately, push me out. She told me to keep doing what I am doing because I have made a name for myself in the school. She was right. I have made a name for myself. I stopped talking to the woman and I stopped absorbing her negative energy. In the past few weeks, she has noticed this and started coming into my room asking me for things. Sure, her intentions are not entirely pure, but now I know it's not my fault. She, as my mother says about people who have issues, "got some stuff with her."

2. Teaching is the most difficult and rewarding thing I have ever chosen to do.
I often tell people that teaching is my accidental calling. I was a substitute teacher while looking for a full time job in Grad school. I spent a lot of time in pre K and high school. Though PreK will always have my heart, I enjoyed the conversations I had with the high schoolers. They were smart. They were funny. They had so much drive and determination. This was something I was never able to see in my peers when I was in high school. I decided that not only could I do this job, but I could do it better than most.
I researched, applied, sent in paperwork, got things notarized, took the PRAXIS - twice. I got certified. In October. Inconvenient for a FT teaching job, but I had the long term substitute position fall into my lap. The rest is, as they say, history.
Teaching is difficult. It is arduous. It is time consuming, but it is also incredibly rewarding. I have managed to touch the lives of young people all year. I had a girl who considered herself a dumb jock write me an incredible short story and start enjoying literature again. I had one kid tell me (though I could not look at him when he said it) that I challenged him and made him think and that he is a better student because of me. I have parents of difficult students coming up to me telling me that their children have never been so successful in English. They are grateful for my patience with their children. I had a student with a "learning disability" get the second highest grade in my class. All he needed was a boost of confidence and a little extra time. The faculty and staff commended me at our last inservice because of my work with the kids. One teacher remarked about a particular advisee who hates everyone but for some reason "worships the ground I walk on." She was my toughest student.

In a year as, say, an administrative assistant, I never could have made this much impact on others. I believe that I was meant to become a teacher and my first year only served to solidify my beliefs.

As of right now, I have no idea if I will be continuing to teach where I am now. Even if I am not there in the fall, I know I can do this job. I know I am capable of making a difference in this world through my students, which is all I ever wanted to do.


  1. Congratulations on your first year. I work in education also and it is tough but can be so rewarding. I'm sure that whereever you are assigned, you'll be fine. Isn't it great when you have a positive impact on students?

  2. There's a website you may want to check out. It is called, So You Want to Teach? Congratulations on completing your first year, and being able to have the mind to write about it. LOL! You bottle the answer so very eloquently.

  3. From one teacher / blogger to another, I thank you for the work you do. It's imperative we congratulate and support each other in whatever capacity possible. Well done.


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