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Some Angst-Filled Journal Entries From My First Year of Teaching

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

I kept a teaching journal for the first ten years of my career. Once I filled up every page, I stopped, but I read my student teacher some entries one time when she was overwhelmed and she suggested it that I publish it. I DID, and it's HERE in all of its angsty and unpolished glory, but here are a few entries from the very first few months of my career, when I was feeling especially down and confused. (I was hired in December after someone did not return from maternity leave, so February was my second month of teaching. I am about to start year 16....still clinging to the dream.)

If you need someone to pump you up and get you back in the game, feel free to reach out!

February 7, 2006

I don’t think teaching is for me; obviously, I’ve been going back and forth with this, but it’s okay. I will find something. As of now, I’m giving it this year and next. After that, I can be done if I wanna be.

Either way I think I’m done with 8th grade. I miss mature books. I wanted to be an English teacher, yes, for the kids, but more for the books.

When I get home I am so worn out and sick of people. I can’t describe the joy I feel at having the house all to myself. I think I would like to have a job where I work quietly all day by myself in a dark cubby. Then I would be able to save my “people energy” for my friends, family, and roommates. I’m so sick of everyone at the end of the day. Looks like I will have to live alone if I am a teacher.

I think I would also like to try free-lance writing and then see what’s out there in editing and publishing. I would also like to teach 10th & 11th grade if I keep on teaching.

February 14, 2006

I looked into a part-time job today: a few extra bucks would be helpful, and it would allow me to explore other career options. There has got to be something out there for me.

February 23, 2006

For the last few weeks, I have been determined to quit my job. I’ve been looking into everything but teaching: editing, publishing, freelancing… anything. For a while I could not remember why I got into teaching.

Then today we had a parent conference.

It was just the science teacher and I and the mom of the student. I felt bad because the mom was very rude to Lily [science teacher] when Lily does everything for these kids. I just sat there. Noel [the student] is doing fine in my class; she’s just a little talkative. After mom finished going off on us, they called Noel into the meeting to face all three of us so that mom could embarrass/harangue her daughter in front of us as well. That’s when the memory train straight ran me over. Suddenly, I could remember why I got into teaching

I got into teaching because my mom was really hard on me about stupid shit growing up, and it made me miserable. If I got so much as a B+, I tried to hide somewhere in the house to avoid the scream-fest and grounding that I knew was coming. I felt like shit all the time because I was never good enough, even when I was. It made me resentful of my mother. We have no relationship. Yelling at kids for a B+, or a B, or even a C is dumb.

And here I was in a meeting with a mom who was yelling at everyone for Noel having a B+.

So anyway, I remembered why I wanted to teach: I wanted to help those kids who were like me. Those kids worked pretty hard but were maybe not the smartest or fastest. They deserved some self-esteem as much as the next person. I guess it’s easy to lose sight of your purpose in the thick of things.

March 9, 2006

We had a meeting this morning about Miguel [struggling student]; it was depressing. Some wrote him off as a kid who will drop out. I may not be the nicest person, and I may get overwhelmed, but at least I have not written Miguel off yet.

Things Bothering Me:

1. I don’t feel I am being the best teacher I can

March 14, 2006

Funniest Teaching Moments

1. Me hitting William on the head with a Reese’s Cup.



Me: Throw candy.

Will: Not looking because he’s high-fiving a friend.

Candy: Hits Will on side of head.

2. John farting in the middle of some kid reading his lines for The Crucible. The room was super quiet and the fart was super loud. I literally could not stop laughing. I don’t even care that I was supposed to be the adult in the room. Farting is always funny.

[For health class, kids are all given hard-boiled eggs, which they are supposed to take care of for a week. They are supposed to pretend the eggs are babies and then take them to every class unless they hired an “eggsitter” or someone else to take care of the egg.]

3. George cracking open his 3-day-old egg baby in class, eating the yolk, and then taping it back together like it was no big deal.

4. Xavier using the expression “mile high club” while trying to explain why people would be attracted to the idea of climbing Mt. Everest. I tried not to laugh but then couldn’t hold it in. (I’m noticing a pattern here.) I ended up laughing in Jack’s face and he told me (sarcastically) that he was going to cry.

March 25, 2006

Career Goals

1. Get masters/PhD

2. Be the best high school/college English teacher that I can be

March 26, 2006

I’m not sure if teaching is my passion. I know that I have a desire to do well in whatever I do, but what do I have a burning desire to do?

Job-wise, I like the idea of free-lancing and being my own boss. I think the idea of controlling my own time, though, would be what I loved about it.

May 5, 2006

I do want to be a great teacher. I can’t imagine anything else that is as challenging and as good for the world as teaching. I have to have knowledge in order to do this, though. I am going to need to go to graduate school.

June 22, 2006

I decided to become a teacher during my freshman year of college while I was in the middle of a lacrosse practice. Before that practice, I had come to the conclusion that veterinary medicine was not for me. I had bombed chemistry and, although I did okay in biology, I did not enjoy the time spent in either of those classes. I knew that following my original plan to be veterinarian would be “forcing it.”

When I had the epiphany that I should be an English teacher, it seemed obvious; I felt like I should’ve realized it long ago.

I remember it being such a big deal to call home and say, “I’m not going to be a veterinarian.” I guess I expected my parents to be disappointed since I had been saying I wanted to be a veterinarian for a long time. My dad and my mom were both very calm about it. It really just ended up being a big deal to me.

I feel that I have the core traits I need to succeed as a teacher: a love for reading, a need to be busy and lost in a worthwhile task, a thirst for knowledge and learning, an ability to lead, the ability to take charge when there is an emergency, and a love of books. Most of all, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher that had a positive effect on students’ lives….like my teachers and coaches had on me.

I guess at this point what makes me hesitant to stay in the teaching profession is that there could be other options out there; I was so single-minded back then; I didn’t consider other options. The idea of being an English teacher hit me, and I stuck with it. My eyes are open now. I am willing to keep considering my options. I think I need to keep trying different things and exposing myself to different people and jobs and places and ideas. I will be sure about something eventually.

I do not like journalism or newspaper writing. I could not make a living that way.

I know I would wither in any office setting. This is part of why I love being in a classroom. Offices would be a slow death.

The reasons why I chose to become a teacher are slowly coming back to me.

June 26, 2006

I have this summer in front of me but no money to do anything with.

I am so confused about who I am. Like a chameleon, I change with the place I am in. One second I think an office job would kill me, the next second I think I should’ve majored in business. I’ll never have money to do the things I want to do with this job…will I? I don’t right now, which makes me wonder about getting my masters degree. That’s where the money is.

I don’t want to be so broke all the time.

Read the rest of the journal here: Crazy, Broke, and Stupid.

                   **Let me know in the comments section how you are feeling about teaching today.**

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