In honor of my friend, Kerri, who has just gotten her first teaching job I have decided to write a post about my own first teaching jobs.
Job number 1
I was hired to teach 3rd grade at a school in Waco, Texas. When I showed up for inservice the principal informed me that I was now going to be teaching 4th grade. Ok...no big deal. How different could it be? Starting in 4th grade this school switched classes. I was the English/Grammar teacher for all of the 4th graders. Ok...so it is different. Again...no big deal...less prep work. Let me just say this was the hardest job I have ever had. The kids were all from the neighborhood and really had a pretty rough time of it. I was a little twit and had no idea how to handle any of their problems. I had come from an upper middle class home, parents still married to each other, and attended church everytime the doors were open. So when one kid came to school and told me the reason he had missed the last 2 days was because he and his mom had moved to a shelter after his dad poured gasoline on them and threatened to light them on fire I got an ulcer trying to deal with it all. There were also the regular fights breaking out in the classroom between kids. These fights consisted of picking up desks and throwing them at each other. Then there was Lucas who had to make comments throughout the lesson's entirety, every lesson...saying things like "you tell 'em Mrs. Dixon" and "y'all better listen to her...she's the teacher". After trying everything my poor 21 year old brain could come up with I resigned at the semester. This was after the principal called me into her office and asked why I had failed a kid in the gifted and talented program. I told her that he never turned in any work. I had tried to get him to stay after school for help. His parents would never come for a conference. I had done all I knew to do. She asked what he would have made if he had turned in the work. I told her that he could have made an A easily. Her exact words to me were "then that's what you need to give him". That's when I resigned. I figured there were too many problems in the world for me to contribute to them by passing kids who didn't do any work.
After this job I thought I never wanted to teach again. I worked in the credit department of a local department store for about 4 months until the itch to teach hit me again.
Job number 2
I was hired to teach kindergarten in a small public school outside of Waco, Texas. I was the only kindergarten teacher and came in after the previous one had been there for years! I had no curriculum and nobody to ask for help from. The school had just hired an elementary principal for the first time. Before that the school which was a K-12 school had one principal for all grades. When they hired a second principal for the elementary school most of the elementary teachers resigned because they didn't like the change. When I was hired they also hired both first grade teachers, one of the second grade teachers, the third, fourth and sixth grade teachers as well as the computer teacher. Only one second grade teacher and the fifth grade teacher stayed. It was quite fun. The first year was hard, but I was in my element. I had been an education major with a specialization in early childhood so it was a much better fit for me. The principal was fantastic...very supportive...and the year went by pretty smoothly. I started the year with only 13 kids which was also helpful. The second year I had a few more students, and by year three I needed a teacher's aide to help me with my 25 kids. I resigned in the middle of the year when Brian got a job in Ft. Worth, and we moved to Arlington. Another thing I loved about this school was the fact that it was year round. 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off. I loved having a break every 9 weeks. It was great to recharge.
One of my favorite memories of teaching was some of the kids' names. I have to wonder what some parents were thinking when they chose the names they did. I encountered kids named Derail (he said he was named after a train...and wasn't kidding), Lucifer and Jesus (in the same class), Marvelous, and my personal favorite, Green Akers III. You would have thought his daddy would have had enough teasing with that name to never tag a kid with it. Ahhh...good memories.
Kerri, I hope your first teaching job is as great as my second! If you need any tips...you know where to find me. Of course it has been 12 years since I taught...but hey...I've still got it...I think...