“So many things I'd like to be, yet I am cursed as what?
A writer with no publisher? A teacher without a class?
Turn the radio up a bit, to drown out these silly thoughts.
I want to drown my sorrows in the many things I'm not.”
Several weeks ago, there was an announcement there would be layoffs at my husband’s company. We had to wait 3 ½ days. The 3 ½ longest days I’ve every waited in my life (except for being 12 days late with my son and 8 days late with my daughter. While pregnant In the Summer). While we waited, we rethought everything. Regrets about choices of jobs in the past, regrets for money we didn’t save, and so on. We discussed what we’d do in a worst-case scenario.
My husband considered looking for jobs out of state.
I began to look for car insurance jobs. I worked at a car insurance company that has some lizard mascot for eight years. I was full-time in the beginning and then part-time while in graduate school and having my son. The company was good to me and I did my job well. I could’ve had a decent career. I might even be an upper-level supervisor right now. I hated the job.
Even before the job scare, I’d considered another field. Problem is I really like having off in the summer and spending the time with my children. So I began looking for jobs on the school calendar.
I’ve been so frustrated to be on the job market for so long. Since August I’ve had three interviews. Since I’ve begun looking, I’ve had four. That was some loooong dry spell.
And then my husband’s job scare made me feel worse. We didn’t have my income to rely on because there wasn’t much income to rely on.
The day after my husband got the notice of layoffs at work, I saw the ETS (Extended Term Sub) job open up and applied. And that day, I received an e-mail from the assistant principal that I’d hear about an interview in a couple of weeks.
My husband didn’t lose his job.
I scheduled the interview.
I got the job.
In March, I may be a daily sub again. But at the end, I hope to do well enough that I have recommendations from coworkers. Even more, I hope the students miss me and I’ll miss them. Right now it feels new and scary and overwhelming.
There were three parents on my interview committee, which is a story in itself. One parent was a former high school student of my graduate school instructor who guided me through my student teaching all the way in New York. They’re still friends. I thought that was an uncanny connection.
This parent, who has a big job at a nearby university, sent an e-mail:
Dear Ms. Milstein,
I wanted to congratulate you on getting the position as ETS replacement for redacted (your excellence was clear at the interview) and to pass along greetings from redacted, who remembers you fondly.
This e-mail meant the world to me. I’ve been so down on myself for being underemployed. It’s been ages since the instructor this parent and I both know complimented me. After coming to observe me, he said, “Teachers are either born or made. You were born to be a teacher.”
I never forgot these words, carrying them with me in my darkest times, a reassurance that I was good and had just screwed up by waiting too long after student teaching.
Even though I’m overwhelmed with a class chockfull of discipline problems, 90+ names to learn (I’m horrible at this.), lessons to plan, papers to grade, parents to meet, and I don’t even know what else. Even though my transition was faster than had been planned. Even though I’m sleeping and eating less. Even though.
A week into teaching, I stood up in front of a class and started a discussion from the textbook and the kids got excited and I got excited.
The next day, I dealt with the tough class. Okay, the hardest student was absent. And I was in a room with desks instead of tables so it was easier to keep them separated. But one girl confronted me and I stood my ground.
A battle won.
All these years teaching college, being an assistant in the fifth-grade, subbing. And I’m still a first-year teacher who didn’t even get to start at the beginning at school. In addition, I don’t have my own room, but carry a cart from class to class. (Seating chart nightmare, anyone?) Of course I’m freaked out.
I have to be the person I said I am in the interview. I meant every word at the time. I have it in me.
Teachers, what was your first year like for you?
Readers, what fears did you face? How’d it turn out?