Friday, January 27, 2012

The day that I realized my teaching career was dead

But first, some background.  By 2009 I had my contract non-renewed by two districts.  In February of 2009 I added another one.  I wasn't surprised by this, though.  School had started in July, and by September my test scores were low enough that they put me on notice.

I could feel my heart rate speed up and my blood pressure rise every time the administration walked into the room.  I was observed almost weekly at points, then subjected to long conferences about how bad a teacher I was, and how awful my classroom management was.  I received my non-renewal notice in my box, at the end of lunch, on a Friday afternoon in late February.  I was devastated.  I was working incredibly hard, taking every criticism to heart and honestly trying to turn it around.  Since I was an emotional wreck, the teachers rallied around me.  The math specialist took over my class and the guidance counselor sent me home early.

The problem with a non-renewal notice is that yes, you are fired, but you have to continue to teach for the rest of the school year.  That's the hard part.

In April, my marriage ended.  I was also politely informed that the math and reading specialists were now going to teach math and reading.   At that point, it was a blessing.  I was tired.  I was having daily panic attacks at lunch.  But I still entertained the thought of teaching again.  maybe in a higher grade.

Until that day.

I can't tell you what day it was.  Or what month.  But one day right before dismissal I was trying to get everyone in their seat and quiet.  That was all I wanted.  Them sitting down and quiet.

It wasn't happening.

So I did something I never thought I'd do.  I screamed.  I screamed for them to sit down.  For God's sake, sit down.  Then I burst into tears, opened the door and let them go.  I was done.  Defeated.

The only thing that got me back in the classroom the next morning was the fact that several of my students raced down the hall to get other teachers to check on me.  They knew that they were in the wrong, and truly sorry that they upset me so.  I even received apology cards the next day.

The year eventually ended.  My panic attacks at lunchtime stopped.  Now my entire teaching career is in boxes, or given as gifts to other teachers.

In the end, I was a crap teacher.  And I wish I didn't spend almost 10 years of my life figuring it out.

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