I’ve pleasured a lot of teachers by being their student.
I mean, I’ve had the pleasure of being a student to a lot of teachers.
couldn’t hold a job moved us around a lot* so I got to see the inside of more than my fair share of classrooms. Three schools in sixth grade qualifies as more than my fair share I think.
My teachers loved me. I was a dream child. Did my work. Talked little. Had some seriously cute pigtails going on.
All things that make teachers love the students they teach.
I can guarantee you that most of my teachers
can’t recall a single thing about me have fond memories of me.
But, I can’t think of any standouts in the teaching department; good or bad.
Some of them were better at imparting knowledge than others, but for the most part they were all just decent. And I learned, um, whatever I was supposed to.
But, I never had the creepy plaid-sports-coat-wearing health teacher suffering an intense case of halitosis and classic male pattern baldness ask me to help him “rearrange books” after class, and I never had the half-drunk-Spanish-teacher ask me to hide her flask in my backpack for her either. She hid it herself.
So disappointed by an educator?
That’s why I decided to become one myself!
I was inspired by the possibility of having a job that would
give me summers off and the opportunity to indulge in afternoon naps during my planning period let me make a difference.
Which is why I joined a little organization called Teach for America when I graduated from college.
They are sorta in the business of making a difference.
Plus, mental giant that I am, I figured that it would be really hard to disappoint a bunch of kids who didn’t have anything anyway.
I joined for other reasons too, but that was one of the main ones.
Only guess what?!
I was wrong!
When I got to my school in Oakland I realized that there were a crap load of disappointing people hanging around that place; and I’m not talking about the kids and their mostly absent parents. They weren’t even horrible.
I’m talking people who were paid, like actually given a monthly salary, to be there. Like, the nicotine fiend in the portable near me who passed the students reading on a 2nd grade level just because they were annoying. Or, the principal who couldn’t be bothered to come out to my class to help me solve a dispute that ended in a knife fight. OR, the math teacher who hated pretty much every kid on the planet.
And then there was me. The coup de grace in the people-who-disappoint-people-who-really-don’t-need-to-be-disappointed department.
The idealistic, 22 year old recent college grad who truly believed that my lack of training and limited knowledge could be overcome by my natural talent to make kids listen to me.
The firm believer that my dedication alone could sincerely make a dent in the “cycle of educational inequity” all of my students were victims of.
The hard worker who never really ever failed at anything. Ever. Because I had the super great luck of being born awesome.
Recipe for disaster?
After one year wrecking shop in my East Oakland classroom I
got knocked up quit and relocated cross country with my baby’s daddy and my illegitimate fetus fiancé and expecting belly.
I left because I couldn’t take it anymore.
I’ve told the my-student’s-street-walking-cracked-out-mom-attacked-me story before. So I’ll save you the gory details. Because, that’s not really why I couldn’t take it anymore anyway.
Suffice to say I was just being…
Dis-a-pointing (in fairness, she was WAY more disappointing than me, in this scenario).
And it wasn’t the finances (although the SF Bay Area is expensive) or the job (Dumb Dad did get a pretty sweet gig on the East Coast) or my desire to live near my mama (I did miss the little whipper snapper something fierce, though).
It was just me.
And, not being able to erase the ugly I saw on a daily basis with my awesome.
And, knowing that, when my own baby entered the world, I wouldn’t be able to put my students, who no one else put even top 5, first anymore. Because they were needy little life suckers and I was a young and way more dumb than I am now.**
That made me feel kinda icky and wrong inside. Like making your adopted child sleep under the stairs when you finally get pregnant with the baby you always wanted.
I thought they needed that from me.
Expected it. Hoped for it. Dreamed about it.
To be first. With someone. Sometimes. Or ever.
Now that I’m
old as dirt more mature, I know that I was wrong.
get knocked up not fulfill my commitment. To my students (not the Corps, I don’t care about that, they replaced me easily).
I shoulda stayed. For them. For me. For the ability to sit here and say I did.
Because I care about stuff like that. Being awesome, helping people, role modeling, that’s the kind of stuff I like.
I at least waited until the year ended and until my students moved on to
another year in the eighth grade high school, but the students who were expecting and hoping and wishing from their seats in the 7th grade (because seriously, I was a little bit awesome prior to my disappointment, and all of the kids wanted me or this lady to be their teacher) they got someone else.
Maybe someone better.
Maybe someone worse.
Hopefully someone less of a disappointment.***
*Just to keep Mimi from jumping all bad on my blog, my dad could keep a job, he just had a cooky job that required us to relocate many times. Which sucked at the time, but was sorta awesome for my college resume.
**They weren’t life suckers all of the time, just like Monday thru Friday when I was with them. I loved them anyway, just like my own life-sucking off spring on whom this blog is largely based.
***Mama Kat suggested we write about disappointing teachers this week. So I did, only it’s about me.