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.