i thought i was titled

It’s been a while, but I’ll try and pretend as though it hasn’t.

I am just about a full three months into teaching. I can easily say it is nothing like I expected it to be? I want so badly to be optomistic and enthusiastic, qualities that I suspect got me the gig, but it’s difficult to muster either one when I talk about teaching.

I don’t hate it. Far from it, actually. I like the students – most of them. Even the ones that rub me I have a sincere concern for. It’s just…. teaching is A LOT harder than I had anticipated. And I am not sure exactly what I expected. Maybe I thought my 10 graders to be more like me when I was in 10th grade – in love with learning and life, ready to embrace any challenge, looking forward to each new school day.

What was I thinking?!

Motivation is difficult – for me and for my students. I am not motivated to do the best job because I feel as though the more time and energy put into my lessons does not result in more enthusiasm on their part to learn. I really have a problem with their need for instant gratification. I can never make all of them happy.

I am on a personal and professional journey. I want this teaching thing to work – at least for now. There are a lot of people counting on me to stick it out. Also, I need to get through this first year and into my second before I really can make a judgment on teaching. Everyone in the education field is in agreement that the first year is beyond describing as “difficult.” My mentor put it in terms anyone can understand – “your first year sucks.” They tell me it’s all about survival. Get through it. No one is expecting fireworks. No one is watching, wondering why I haven’t inspired the next Ghandi or MLK.Jr.

But two teachers that I really look up to had (from my perspective) great first years. Mr. Landsberg, my 10th grade history teacher, was amazing. He was so knowledgeable about the subject and enthusiastic in his lessons. Yeah, I thought he was cute, but beyond my hormonal 16-year old self, I was utterly inspired by him. I used to skip on test days because at least I knew I wasn’t missing new information. (Not to mention make-up tests after school was a bonus for me. [It’s becoming more and more apparent to me as I write this that I wasn’t a normal 16-year-old.]) In any case, if he was struggling in that first year, he did an excellent job of hiding it.

And Miss Lee – my friend Jamie who teaches in Delaware. She prepped me this summer for my new gig, renewed my passion for teaching. She told me how great it was going to be. The kids were going to love me. She told me how she loved teaching. In one conversation she admitted that she couldn’t wait to get to school in the morning, jumping out of bed ready to go.

When my alarm goes off at 6am, I have two reactions: cry and throw up.

So how did these two end up with such great first year experiences? I wish I knew — I wish I knew the secrets.

There is so much I wish I could have done differently. I think all teachers should be required to get a Bachelors in their content area and then a teaching certification. It has come to my attention that I don’t know nearly enough that I should or would like to know about history. Fortunately, neither do my students. But it still leaves me feeling incompetent as a teacher. When I go in to teach a new topic, I rarely feel confident.

I think my teaching experience thus far can be summed up by saying this: I watched, helplessly, my idealism of teaching get annahilated by a 18-wheeler named Reality. What a bummer it has been to watch this tragic accident unfold. I probably could have prevented it. I have no idea what I did wrong.


About Gina Marie Thompson

writer • mom • trail runner • cheese slinger • educator • social justice crusader • seeker of love & beauty• living locally • I CHOOSE LOVE ❤️
This entry was posted in about me, personal musings, teaching and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to i thought i was titled

  1. J says:

    First, in reply to your comment, it would be great to have you on this side of the border.

    As for your first year teaching, well, I don’t think I would like to judge my career by my first year teaching high school. I actually ended up teaching a year of elementary school before I got my first high school gig, and that was fun but crazy, but high school definitely threw me some curve balls for a while. I found the marking load unbelievable, the kids at times frustratingly apathetic, and some of my colleagues cynical beyond belief.

    Now, 21 years into the gig, I must say I look forward to going to work most days, and I love interacting with my kids. The important thing to remember is they won’t remember what you did on a particular day or a particular lesson most of the time, but they will remember when you trusted them, or showed them kindness, or just showed you cared.

    First year can be hell–don’t give up on it.



  2. qarrtsiluni says:

    I’m sorry to hear this – I can imagine how discouraging it must be. Sounds worse than Basic Training in the Marine Corps! I hope you’re able to find a gig in some kind of alternative program, where kids actually want to learn stuff.


  3. Dave Bonta says:

    (Oops, sorry – that was me.)


  4. Mike says:

    Hey, hang in there!

    This is Mike, your dude’s old roommate from college. My first year is feeling quite a bit like yours. I hit a low point a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been better since then. Yes, it’s a very difficult job. I’m just starting to learn a bit about how to get students to do work and learn during the class period. It’s a whole lot less about my own show, and a whole lot more about getting them to pick up the pencils and produce some work. But yes, overall it’s been a challenge.

    If it’s any consolation, know that you are not alone! There are about 4 or 5 other first-year teachers at my school, and we are all having ups and downs in the first year. I hope that things get get a bit smoother as time goes on.



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