After getting hired at the new school, I was anxious to find an apartment at home and move back. I was also ready to get things going at the new place. Before I begin this chapter, I should let you know that everyone I told about the new place was a little hesitant. The county is known for not being a bad place, but different. The majority of the county is low income and farming and factory workers are the predominant occupations. Most students are not interested in the least about furthering their education. This is fine, but it does have a lot to do with my story.
My mom is also off summers, so one morning we drove the 20 minutes to the school to find my classroom and get some things prepared. I was hired the first week in June, but wanted to get a jumpstart on things. When I saw the room and everything in it, I wanted to run. It was the nastiest room I'd ever seen. Dust, dirt, cobwebs, piles of papers and books was what we saw. We left to gte some cleaning supplies, returned and spent several hours just cleaning. In the midst of this, the guidance counselor greeted me, and we started talking about the classes I was going to teach. They were completely different from what I was told in my interview. When mom and I got back to the room, I burst into tears. "I just want to go home," I remember saying through sobs.
The year began, and it was a little rocky.I was not used to the behavior of these kids. It was obvious that they were used to doing what they wanted, talking to people (teachers, adults, etc.) like they wanted, and basically making school a big joke. I usually come across in two ways-- either bitchy or super nice. I really don't have an in between. When being bitchy didn't work, I tried the other approach. It didn't work either. To be effective, I think you need to find a balance, and I just couldn't do that. The kids, seniors who were 17, 18, and 19) walked all over me. How can you make someone care and help them, when they won't try to help themselves. The only thing that saved me that year was the support of my family and friends at the school. I know I vented enough for everyone, but I needed help on how to deal. I spent many lunch breaks, planning periods, and afternoons in tears because it was so hard. During this time, I also lost my only aunt on my dad's side. She had no children, and my sister and I were the only grandkids/neices on that side, so we were extremely close to her. That was really difficult.
At the end of the year, I got another pink slip, but the principal was working with the superintendent to find a way to keep me. Somehow, cheerleading came up. My across the hall neighbor teacher was wanting to coach, and asked me to be assisstant. They thought this would be a good way to keep me too! Due to some situations, I was named head coach and she was named assisstant. Note that I have never coached anything in my life...and the shocking part- never been a cheerleader! I was always into basketball. Oh geez. What had I gotten myself into?
A few days later, I learned that the orginal coach-turned-assisstant-but-still-technical-coach was going to be replaced. I didn't even know this new person, and remember, nothing about cheering! Needless to say, that summer of teaching myself about some cheer basics, holding tryouts in the middle of the summer, attending a cheer camp, and dealing with some pretty infamously troubled parents were just the beginning.
School started in August, and things got worse. We had a complete new schedule, trouble with the state for low test scores, a new interim principal, some more of the same type of kids, and helping with a dual-credit class. And did I mention I was Pep Club sponsor? Talk about stress. I was having more trouble with the kids, and I admit that most of it was probably because I just wasn't sure how to deal with this demographic and age group. Having cheerleaders in the room caused some respect issues and it was terrible.
During this year, my cousin, who I grew up with, was killed. It was shocking and pretty hard to deal with. On top of the school stress, I just did not handle things very well. I understand that should be dealt with outside of school, but it affected my entire life. A lot of school activities were outside of school (you teachers know what I mean....). Again, at the end of the year, I got a pink slip. To be honest, I knew it was coming. Like I said, I had not had a good year!! I was pretty disappointed in myself.
I can't say I had much support at school. After getting the pink slip, it was like having a giant P on my chest (you know, like Hester Prynne had an A on her chest). Some kids made fun of me, and teachers, that I had previously been close to, just stopped talking to me. Seriously. It was like I had the plague or something.
After the school year ended, I had nothing lined up. I had gotten my Master's degree during this time (did I mention that before? It wouldn't have been a huge deal if I didn't have the other extra stuff too). I had bought a house the year before, lived alone, supported myself, and was a nervous wreck. I was hoping and praying I could find something so I could just live! But to be honest, I wasn't sure if I wanted it to be teaching. After the last two years in what I like to call "hell," I just didn't know if teaching was for me. Why would I purposely put myself through that again? I was ready to quit.
After two years of not finding a teaching or counseling job, or a job at the local colleges and universities, I'm still "jobless." I get so many questions about why I'm not teaching, and I hate it. It's a touchy subject for me. And people don't realize how rude they sound. I just want to scream, "STOP ASKING ABOUT TEACHING!!!"
Believe it or not, I have nightmares about teaching. Every dream I have about teaching is about me with a room full of kids like I had. They talked over me, I had no control, the room was chaos. You think I'm lying, but I'm not. The only bad dreams I have are about classrooms and students like the ones I had. I wake up and swear I'm never teaching again.
I've thought about what else I could do. I could get a job around town doing something, but honestly, I'm not sure they would cover my bills. I could go back to school and get another degree, but I currently owe $20,000 + in school loans from my Masters (which is being of NO help to me right now.)
I pray. I cry. I scream. I pray some more. But I have no answers. I don't know what to do. I don't know my purpose. I don't know what's in store for me, and that is the worst thing.
I know, again, that most of this is complaining, but I just needed to get my "story" out there; Why I'm a "teacher" but not teaching. After 3.5 years of doing that, and 6.5 years of school for it, I just don't know if it's for me. But I don't know what is for me. If you are the praying kind, please say a prayer for me. That I figure this out soon. That I have a lightbulb moment, and something good comes my way. Thanks.