Month: September 2016

The First Few Weeks

Alright, guys. Instead of writing a full synopsis of the last few weeks, I will share with you the progression of my Facebook statuses since pursuing my new job while filling in the blanks with narrative, in italics.

July 26: Guys guys guys guys!!!!! I applied to an incredible charter school today!! So pumped.

I had been introduced to the idea of this charter school through an Uber driver while my mom was visiting me in DC for my birthday. About three days after applying I was told that they saw my experience was mostly with  PK3-3rd graders and always surrounded English/Language Arts (ELA). Because they saw that, they wanted me to teach a math lesson following sixth grade standards. 

August 1: GUYS I DON’T THINK I CAN TEACH MATH. 😥

Ha, I was fucking terrified. I spent so much time (okay, one day since they gave me 2 days notice) on this lesson and I was freaking the eff out. 

August 2: I tried on a million outfits to figure out what I’m going to wear to the interview tomorrow and once I found the right one I sat down and finished my lesson plan! Let’s hope I don’t get all anxious and just yell “MATH!” really loud and then Tina-groan for 20 minutes.

I discovered that the charter school in question was a short walk from where my bff teaches in DC and I asked her to give me a ride. She agreed and I showed up at her apartment to practice my lesson pretty damn early. I went, I kind of rocked the lesson, I got along well with everyone I met and I felt good vibes from these teachers/staff members.

Also August 2: Thanks for the positive thinking everyone! I think it went well- will update you when they get back to me. 🙂

Hint: they didn’t get back to me for a while. They had said I would hear back by the 5th. 

August 19 (AKA NOT THE FIFTH): So for those of you following my job hunt I finally got contacted again by the amazing school I interviewed with a couple weeks ago. Last night I got a text at 10 and they asked me to come in for an ELA lesson today! Combination of feelings-so excited for them to still be thinking of me but also why tf are you giving me 13 hours notice bruh? Way chiller today with my language arts lesson than I was about my math lesson.

Also August 19: Second interview/lesson went really well! Will keep y’all updated.

Side note: holy shit yes I see how much I use Facebook. Don’t hate.

August 21: Who has two thumbs and starts her big-girl teaching gig on Tuesday? THIS GIRL. Say hello to Miss Reed, sixth grade humanities teacher!

August 22: OMG GUYS MY FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL IS TOMORROW. WTF.

August 23: Wtf have I done.

This change in narrative is not to be ignored. I was SO excited. I was told that I would have an entire week to observe, get to know the students/school, and set up my classroom space. Instead, I was thrown in headfirst with a substitute that believed since I was in the classroom she didn’t have to do her job. I was forced to teach on the first day- after specifically being told that I would not need to prepare a lesson, as the substitute was there and had plans for the week. Some highlights of the things that happened on day 1:

  • I was immediately asked if I am racist/ voting for trump
  • I was physically threatened by a sixth grade female. She held scissors to my neck and told me that I was white, she didn’t have to listen to a thing I said, and that I should remember that before she cut me.
    • I didn’t cry
  • My desk was flipped, my phone was stolen (later returned)

August 24: Can we just talk about the fact that anyone who wants to teach will never be prepared to do so in DC? You just can’t prepare yourself to understand it until you’re in it. Blessed to have this opportunity but damn if I haven’t thought about quitting every five minutes since my first day….yesterday. I am pro-adulting and in bed by 10:30, though, so that’s good.

Guys this is when my mindset started to shift real hard. I was incredibly excited to begin this opportunity. I also was super stoked to be teaching English, work with a fucking incredible group of people, and just be following my dream of teaching kiddos who come from low income families and have high emotional and academic needs. Sure, I had no idea that over 80% of the students were emotionally disturbed or that a large portion of them became explosive and violent when told to sit in a chair, but I was grateful for the opportunity to work in this school. 

On the 25th I was slapped in the face. 

August 27: Spending my day researching effective classroom environments and writing personal letters to my kiddos- both the students who behave the majority of the time and also to the kiddos who like to attack me on a regular basis. Oh, and then going to work tonight 😦

I was still working two jobs at the beginning- fuck my life. I researched a lot and I changed my room around. I wrote those letters and most of them still have the letters in their binder- I don’t think it did much in the beginning but I see them re-read the letters when they’re frustrated or bored. So that’s cool. The letters tell them some of the good things I had noticed in my first few days of working with them and shared some info about me. 

August 29: Guys. Is this even what I want to do. Fuck.

Still a question I ask myself, though things have started to get a bit better. I sincerely questioned my entire life’s path during my first few weeks at this school. I was convinced I had made a terrible, terrible mistake. I went home each night sincerely hoping that I might get murdered or hit by a car so that way I could just be dead and not have any stress to deal with the next day. I wanted to die. I didn’t necessarily want to kill myself but I wanted to end everything. The stress was so much. I have a student who saw his father die, a student in foster care who was left alone as a child for years in the streets of New York. These children were/are going through and processing things I have never had to deal with and I commend the shit out of them for showing up. But it fucking weighed/weighs on me. All of the stress. Just all of it. I wanted it to stop. 

September 1: That awkward moment when you can’t leave your room to get your lunch because there are children throwing chairs/scissors/staplers down the hallway and trying real hard to enter any and all classrooms to destroy all things possible.

This still happens. Too often. I can’t send kids into the hallway to go to the bathroom because they might get hurt. Sometimes I can’t open the door lest a student from another class barge in and disrupt (best case) or destroy (more likely) the class. So hard. 

September 3: Brunching by myself today, I think. The possibilities are endless when I have a WHOLE WEEKEND OFF!

Week two was done. Week one of me being the only one in the classroom. I really needed someone to process my time with but nobody was available for company. Which was a bummer. I ended up staying at home all weekend and getting sort of drunk. A lot. 

On Labor Day I brunched with a friend. She had a lot she was dealing with so I was happy to ignore my depression and instead focus on her. I saw a past colleague and excitedly told her I finally got a teaching job! She said “yeah but it’s not like you like it, all I see is you complaining on Facebook all the time.” 

First of all- fuck you. Second of all- eight million things happen in one day at school. Teachers have to make the most decisions per day versus any other profession. I have to do and act and process while doing and processing and reflecting. It’s fucking HARD. Of course I complain on Facebook. I also show up to this job every day with the big grey cloud of depression and suicidal thoughts above me. So fuck you again for telling me I must not be happy about this job. 

September 5: Just as a big, clear FYI: I have sincerely battled killing myself every night this week because of my job.

Went out with my BFF and her roommate to our local favorite bar and got a little drunkypoo. I got upset thinking about the colleague who told me I must hate my job and I admitted to my friends and our bartenders that I had been suicidal for a few weeks. I cried. A lot. And I went home, angrily scrawled this on facebook, and proceeded to break down on my kitchen floor for like an hour. Thank goodness my housemates are amazing and they did a great job helping me settle down. 

September 7: Trying to write a blog post about secondary trauma. >,< Edit: instead, I completed the Anxious Teacher’s worst fear: calling all of my students’ guardians and leaving FOURTEEN VOICEMAILS. Coming from the girl who couldn’t call for her own pizza until…..ever bc the internet.

Secondary trauma is so real. I have experienced it day in and day out through these kids and their actions. Additionally, only five of my fifteen guardians/parents seemed to be willing to speak with me so I don’t have support from home. 

There are more Facebook statuses I could add, all the way up until a few days ago. I started this blog post like two weeks ago and I haven’t been in a good place until recently to start writing again. I now have some really great things that I’m focusing on outside of work and I also am finding my stride in the classroom. Like 60% of my kids kind of like me now. I’ll take that as a small victory.

I have to remind myself every single day that I need to take everything poco a poco… little by little. I am holding fiercely onto my hope and I will soon be writing some posts (hopefully) about funny things in the classroom or happy things my kids do instead of telling you how much I hate my life from 8-5.

Thanks for reading. Reach out with questions or support. Please. Support is really helpful for me right now.