What Being a Teacher Taught Me
Many recent college graduates can recognize how difficult it is to navigate the world after graduation. Whether you are continuing your education or moving back home, there is so much uncertainty. I found myself at an impasse when I decided to delay graduate school for a year and work. I was looking for the work but the work was nowhere to be found. I applied to countless jobs both in and out of my field and I was sure I would end up back at Publix, ringing up groceries.
Graduating in December can sometimes be a hindrance as many jobs may not be hiring quite yet. So, in January, I settled with a substitute teaching job and it wasn't so bad. I took attendance at the beginning of class, sent a student to the office with it, and spent the rest of my time scrolling on TikTok, applying to other jobs, and editing YouTube videos. I figured by the end of the school year, one of the jobs I applied for would have hired me.
You guessed it, I was wrong.
The school year ended and I still had no prospects. I had no idea what I was going to do and I'll be honest -- I was scared. I really didn't know what to do next so I decided to that I was just going to keep substitute teaching. Until I received a phone call. The principal at the school I had been primarily subbing at needed a Food and Nutrition teacher. Now I took just one Food and Nutrition Sciences course in college as a requirement for my degree so I was hesitant but... I needed a job and I needed the money.
I reluctantly took the job and from the moment I did, I regretted the decision.
You see, it was never in my plan to be a teacher. I considered it throughout my time in college but it was never something I felt was a fit for me. I could never figure out a subject that I was comfortable teaching, the pay is not that great, and I don't really like kids that much.
I gave teaching a chance because maybe it was worth the sacrifice. I grew up with amazing teachers that were dedicated and committed to their jobs. Not to mention that my mother is an educator; maybe the gift ran in the family. But teaching is more than an ocean.
Aside from the fact that teachers should get paid more, it is mentally and emotionally taxing. Teaching in a high school means you have to look and act right or those kids will roast you and eat you. My self confidence took a huge hit within the first few months of teaching. It's easy to say, "I don't care what a 15 year old thinks of me" but when you walk in the door at 7:00 in the morning and the first thing someone says to you is "Your hair is really ugly today" or when you're at your desk grading work and someone comes up to you and tells you that you're fat... it can start to get to you.
In my mind, that's not what I signed up for. I expected to maybe have a few parents get frustrated with me or for fights to break out every 10 minutes (which they did) but not for me to feel like I'm a 16 year old high school student that has to obsess over every detail of my outfit so I don't get made fun of.
I also never expected the structure of my day to day life to effect me. In college, every day is different. While you may have to get up early, every day has a different set of classes. You may finish at 2 pm one day and not finish until 7 pm the next day. Working Monday-Friday, 7 am to 4 pm, really got to me. The weekends were too short and I was yearning for something to shake the week up. I was extremely bored.
Now, I'll be honest, while they were annoying and lacked a lot of common sense, the students were not my least favorite part of the job. Teaching them was. I actually found a lot of them relatable and funny but when it came time for them to follow directions... it was like they had not heard a word I said. I intentionally made my class as easy as I possibly could. Less work for them, meant less work for me. I also didn't want to explain to any parents how their child was failing an elective course but there were several times that the conversation occurred.
I will never claim to have been the perfect child and/or student but when I was in school, I went to school and I did my work. That was the easiest part of my day. I understand that every child is different and some may avoid doing their work due to different learning disabilities but there is no way 75% of my students had learning disabilities unless there is a new one called lazy.
Nevertheless, the job of educating actually spent a lot of time educating me. I learned so much about myself. My limits were tested many a time but I persevered. I learned that I am capable of sacrificing momentarily in order to have the life I want in the future. Being a person who didn't want to be a teacher taught me that teaching is truly a gift. All the amazing teachers I had growing up were truly meant to be there and had a passion for it.
Most importantly, I learned to always think through decisions before making them. If I had taken the time to think about the decision I was making or what I was getting myself into, I'm not sure if I would have taken the job or not. I let my fear get in the way of good decision making skills. To be fair, I probably would've still taken the job but I wouldn't be looking back wondering.
If you are thinking about entering the profession of teaching, do it! Don't let me stop you. I just have one piece of advice... stay prayed up.