It’s true – I’ve taught schoolchildren for real money. Several times, actually. Granted, the pay wasn’t all that great since I was merely responsible for educating the future of America, but I proudly wore the teacher’s mantle. Now that I crunch the numbers I see my first year’s students have crested thirty, voted in a number of elections, and likely have families of their own.
Holy crap, I’m old.
I’ve found that you never really lose that teacher voice, though, and it’s come in handy in my second (third? fourth?) career as a frequent flyer volunteer in the elementary school. But as for today’s post, let’s start looking at those teacher adventures, shall we?
Like one of those chocolate/vanilla swirl cones, leaving college was a perplexing mix of exhilarating confidence and crippling confusion.
“I’ve got this. I’ve lived, I’ve learned, I’ve been in the classrooms for over three years now. I’m ready to set the world on fire.”
“What on earth are they thinking, handing me a bunch of kids and setting me loose?”
Teaching is a bit like becoming a parent in this sense.
Months Years of preparation followed by a whirlwind of labor and delivery graduating into adulthood and shock that you’re leaving the hospital with a baby walking into your very own classroom on the first day of school.
My first “official” teaching job landed me in the Virginia countryside. I lived in a townhouse within sight of my school and was delighted to find both looked out over a pasture where cows grazed all day. Cows. Roaming around. Every day. It felt like I’d stepped into an alternate universe, and a picturesque one at that.
I drove a snazzy red Miata (ahhh…) with just enough room in the trunk for my teaching stuff or bags from the grocery store. The kids couldn’t pronounce my last name so they called me Miss G., because in those days (or maybe in that place) unmarried teachers were Miss and married ones were Mrs. and that was that. None of this Ms. nonsense, thank you very much.
I rolled into that school at twenty-three, wet behind the ears in so many ways yet supposedly an expert in my field. Any students referred for special education services fell under my purview – completing classroom observations, one-on-one testing, compiling results, then running the IEP meeting were all part of my job. When I look back at my baby faced photos from 1994 I’m a little shocked no one ever questioned my ability to handle this sort of responsibility.
And then there was time in my classroom. Students would visit in small groups to work on core subjects, and my heart found such fulfillment in that. This was the year one of my fifth graders began showing up to school in khakis and dress slacks, which was a bit unusual for that country town. Her mom later told me it was because she wanted to be just like me. Oh my. All the feels. Don’t tell me teachers don’t make a difference.
BrightSide and I decided to move to St. Louis after we got married so I was only at the cow school for a year, but it was a pretty fabulous year. I can only hope each fresh batch of teachers is as lucky as I was.