I spent 2 years after college trying to work on my anxiety and repair my self-confidence. Even in going back to a job I had done before I felt incapable of doing things right. I was always anticipating someone was going to tell me that I did everything wrong. I was so fragile, when a coworker asked me in a non-threatening manner why I did something I started crying. Eventually I gained more self-confidence but I was still waiting for the storm.
Fast forward to the end of the 2 years, it was time to send applications to schools. I so desperately wanted a chance to finally make a classroom my own and in my own way prove to those smug college people they were wrong about me. The summer went on and I wasn’t getting interviews or offers despite filling out applications across 4 states. From the few phone interviews I received I had this gut feeling that former supervisor was creating doubt. I started to fall into some self-pity when summer was coming to an end that I wouldn’t be taking off with my career just yet. And at the seemingly last minute an opportunity came open. I was grateful, excited and optimistic.
The principal wanted me within the next few days, so I packed a weeks worth of clothes, booked a hotel room and hit the road from GA to NC. When I arrived, I was taken immediately on a tour of the school and introduced as the new 2nd grade teacher then given my classroom on the 4th and 5th grade hall full of extra stuff no one else in the school wanted. I was also informed that I’d be with my class the beginning of the next week (school had already been in for 2 weeks). I knew a total of 1 person (the connection that got me the job), had no place to live, much less enough underwear to last me til then. None of that mattered, because I was so thrilled to have my chance. I was fortunate to find a coworker that let me stay at her home for a few weeks and my mom was able to bring me some clothes and other necessities to get me on my feet.
Everything was new and a little scary. I went to work everyday determined to do my best and try my hardest. It was more difficult than I had imagined but not anything I thought would be too bad-at first. As the weeks passed, I felt like I just couldn’t get my footing and my mentor had a very similar approach to those from my college experience. I still kept pushing because I knew everyone has a hard time their first year and none of my problems seemed to be much worse than a few of my coworkers. What I didn’t realize is that 1 or 2 of those weren’t so bad, but all of them together was just a recipe for the perfect storm. My confidence plummeted and again I felt that I couldn’t do anything right. Eventually I got angry. It was my only solution to protect myself. I still did everything I could for the kids but instead of being afraid of another criticism, I got angry at it and them for not actually helping me. At the end of the year it was clear they didn’t want me there but it didn’t phase me because I didn’t want to be there.
In some ways my confidence was shaken and in others it was stronger than ever. I decided there were experiences in that year that I wouldn’t let them take away from me. I moved away from home, found a place to live, began a new relationship, and showed up for work everyday. All of these are big steps especially on your own at the same time. Those accomplishments will never be diminished in my mind.
Thomas the Tank Engine meets Goth!
Since I was 7 or 8 years old I’ve wanted to be a teacher. My whole life was school, I pushed myself to do well and took pride in my grades. I started working with kids when I was 11. In high school I took classes that helped me understand child development and how it relates to teaching.
I went to a college with a very strong education program and gained experience in the field. I had barely started that journey when I was first questioned as to whether I was a good fit for this program. However, I was not about to let anyone deter me from what I felt was my calling when they were supposed to be teaching me. As I continued, I faced some struggles managing the stress of the expectations. I am a person who likes to hold very high expectations for myself. The balance between coursework and field performance became very taxing. I tried not to make a big deal of it because all of my classmates felt the same way. There was some consolation in that fact. However, I felt that I was being challenged and growing. My nature is typically reserved and performing as a teacher was out of my comfort zone, but a necessary step. I tried to stay positive, to reach my dream-to reach kids.
When I reached student teaching, it was taking on the full responsibilities of a classroom teacher. It’s training via immersion and no room for errors. I ate, breathed, and slept school. I could not use any brain space for anything else-sometimes hurting my roommates. I tried my hardest and knew most of what was expected of me. But it’s what I didn’t know that started to create problems. I didn’t know how to talk to my “mentor” teacher (if you can call it that) when she didn’t talk to me. I didn’t know I should’ve gone to my supervisor when I couldn’t communicate with my “mentor” teacher. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong in time to fix it. In the eyes of those who were supposed to be teaching me, I was missing the mark- BIG TIME. When small things started to slip because I had been sick since the beginning of the semester, and crazy stressed I didn’t think it was a big deal. Everyone is allowed small mistakes, right? I had heard from my peers that this or that happened but they were fine. In my case, that was not fine. They teamed up on me and came down on me hard without warning. Out of the blue I went from thinking things are not great but ok to realizing I was in big trouble and I didn’t know how or why. That stress snowballed into more mistakes which led to more critical critiques.
I ended up having to defend myself in a room of collegiate *insert fancy collegiate supervisor of education name* people. I explained my side of everything that had happened. That I was weeks away from graduating and deserved a second chance. They were skeptical but I was given that chance and still things did not go smoothly. I fought through more tears and sleepless nights for those last few weeks trying to keep myself together. When I graduated I was so relieved and proud yet I had some healing to do. I was not ready to settle into my dream job at my dream school with my dream students because I had been told that even though they were “letting” me graduate, that I couldn’t do it. More than anything I wanted to throw it in their smug faces and say “WATCH ME!”
I don’t mean to exclude men in this blog. I feel it is applicable to every single person. Have an understanding and acceptance for who you are and use that as a strength to achieve your goals.
John Green is one of my favorite authors. I’m excited about my favorite of his books- Paper Towns- that is now on the big screen (I’ve yet to go see it!) In honor of last week’s release here is a motivational Monday quote. Also I recommend everyone read his books and see the movie! If you don’t know who John Green is you’re missing out because he has a great perspective and is also hilarious!