Ahh school. The very mention of the word and I almost break out in hives. The fact that the 21st is looming in my near future does not help matters. Anxiety creeps in and I wonder if I will make it to retirement. Somehow I don’t think so.
Growing up I had neutral feelings about school. I was friends with almost everyone, and would certainly talk to anyone who wanted to chat with me. I had a circle of friends and a circle of enemies. Unfortunately those enemies often wanted to be my friend. So confusing to a fifth grader, and it didn’t get any better in middle school. I liked doing my work in school. I did whatever the teacher told us to do. I loved working out of workbooks. I loved that we could write in the book and didn’t have to worry about reuning it. I loved memorizing vocab words and math facts. I really liked all my teachers in elementary school. In middle school is when I developed an extreme disinterest in math. I could not stand my math teacher. She was not a good teacher. She yelled at us, gave us way too much work, and really did not explain things. Besides math I really like school.
In high school things with my friends got better. I found out who my real friends were and ditched the enemies. Math did not get any better. In ninth grade I had an equally poor algebra teacher who had not taught the subject in 12 years. Yep, my uncle’s class was the last class to have him. My uncle became my math tutor because the teacher was horrible. He had no clue how to teach the subject. He had no clue how to teach those who struggled. His method of helping was telling us to work with a partner. Too bad my partners had no clue what they were doing either. Then there was my French class. I loved my French class. Our teacher was awesome! She was very down-to-earth and loved chatting with us. She had a French club and one year we went to Montreal, Canada. We had a cheese tasting party, celebrated Mardis Gras, and did some really cool projects. A lot of my friends were in that class also so every day was like a party.
In college I made all new friends, but kept in contact with some of my high school friends. Work became a lot more challenging in college. It was the first time I failed a class and had to retake it. I studied my guts out but it wasn’t good enough. The second time I passed with a D. It was then that I discovered that high school might have been a little too easy. I am not sure why I did not take more challenging classes in high school. Perhaps math left me without energy to do anything more challenging. I never took AP English, but think I would have really enjoyed it. I know I would have enjoyed it more than the English 12 class I took with the highschool basketball coach. He worried more about his season than what he was trying to teach us in the classroom. I met my husband in college. He became my tutor also. He would quiz me on terms and methods. With his help I did pretty well.
When I got my first teaching job I was so excited. Two weeks after graudation and I had landed a long-term subsitution position teaching 10th grade English. I also had a section of ELL students. The kids were nice enough, they missed their teacher, and it was the first time I encountered a pregnant student. To make things even more interesting the father of the child was also in the class. I never was really nervous with this position. It was fun, long enough, and I think some students actually learned something. I got lots of nice notes when I left.
Then I began my career. My first day I was so excited and nervous by the end of the day I was in tears. The kids were MEAN! They were disrespectful and I had no idea how I was going to make it to June. I had never been called racist or a bitch or a white bitch before. I had no idea how to deal with these students. My principal gave me a book. I remember telling my husband I wanted to throw it on his lawn and burn it. Everyone kept saying the second year will be better. They were right with respect to the job but not how to deal with the students. I still really did not know how to deal with the disrespect and how to handle the comments they would make. In time I learned just to let things roll off my back and not take things personally. I learned to talk with the students and try to find out why they were so upset with me. Often times it wasn’t me at all they were upset with. Things would happen at home or another class or with their friends and they would take it out on me. Not very fair right? Try telling that to someone who is 16 and in the 8th grade. They are worrying about driving not what words I want them to memorize for a vocab quiz.
A new position awaits me this year. I am very excited and nervous to see what’s in store. I have learned a great deal the past 9 years. I am still learning. I want to learn more. As the 21st gets closer, I begin to think about the students I will be working with. I wonder how they have changed over the summer. I wonder about the hardships they have had to endure. I wonder about the things they will learn this year. I hope they are happy and I really can’t wait to see them!