Can’t Hardly Wait

It happened as quickly as an ’80s movie montage plot summary. The important events and interactions segued into one another easily. The heroine-me-moved on to her grown-up plans.

*College Recruiter Interview*

*Video Interview at Central Office*

*Knocking on Doors at Every Middle School in the District*

*Job Offer at the Last School on the List*

And just like that, I was a teacher.ย  Instead of the struggle to find my first real job defining my whole movie, it was just the opening credits. The real struggle was going to be that ‘being a master teacher’ thing. I entered the profession with the goal of awarding knowledge daily and changing lives forever. After the first few months, I just wanted to be proficient.

My best knowledge gifts that first year? Well, let’s see, maybe it was the time I taught them to keep an unfortunate incident a secret for their teacher?

See, I had this student, oh, let’s call him Damien, who was a fantastic learning experience for my first year. He had social issues beyond the normal ones of 12 year-old boys in constant contact with girls. He was also too smart for us normal folk but too lazy to try harder. His parents saw no reason for the myriad interventions the school had to offer and instead wanted us to just roll with it.

So I rolled until one day I couldn’t anymore. I sent dear Damien to the office. That’s all. I may have also thrown a pen at my desk which was unfortunately in his general direction. I did not pelt him with the pen nor did I intend to. (I hit my targets.) It was still inappropriate. Yet, the minute he was out of the room, the rest of the class seemed to forget it all. They were so happy to have peace and quiet and, dare I say, the chance to learn their verb tenses. They liked to say, “What pen?” every now and then to make me laugh. It was likewise a constant reminder of my failure to do the right thing in a tough situation.

In fact, none of that movie went according to script. Dear God, it was like the director couldn’t read a damn thing I had written. Instead of being about the gifted teacher changing lives with proper grammar and love of literature, the story was about a girl with a talent she couldn’t quite put to good use.

I was exhausted when that year ended. Every day was a new lesson for me, not the kids. I prayed with all my might that those kids would get fabulous English teachers the rest of the way.

There were many sequels. Some were great, and some went straight to video. The director eventually made a movie about a pretty decent educator. It was energizing; I’m hoping to see it again.

Please follow the link to Yeah Write to read some other inspired posts by writers stretching their skills this summer.


26 thoughts on “Can’t Hardly Wait

  1. We all lose our patience every now and then. I am a horrible teacher. In fact, when I was in high school, I once threw a pen across the room when trying to teach my boyfriend some algebra problems that he couldn’t seem to grasp. Shameful, I know.

  2. I like your honesty! It’s refreshing to hear when someone openly explains how an experience has changed them in ways that surprise them.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Such a great story. I love that the kids teased you with “What pen?” Teaching 12 year olds is not for the faint of heart, and we never know how our movies will unfold.

  4. Pens happen. Honestly, I think if you won over the class enough that they went back to their work and that they could joke about it? You won at first year teaching.

  5. If the pen was the only casualty of your first year, it was a success! More than once I have had to stifle the urge to look at a student and beg, “WHAT are you DOING???”

  6. This was very cool! I love how honest you are about your ideals and your reality. And I bet you are super hard on yourself. Many a teacher would be justified in throwing all kinds of stuff at me….and I was pretty decent. Great story.

  7. Great story. I may make teaching my second career. I’ve finished take all the required courses. Now all I have to do is my student teaching, but Kellie’s keeps dragging me on vacation after vacation so I’m never home long enough to get it done. I’m not putting up much resistance at the moment either.

  8. I like the image of you struggling as much as your kids and honestly admitting that the whole experience has been one of learning for you.Quite honestly, that kind of attitude is an excellent one for an educator.

  9. Loved the movie references – they really grabbed me! And thank you for your honesty. I can only imagine the pressure and frustration teachers must feel. You sound like one of the special ones – teachable and humble. Way to go!

  10. That first year of teaching must be so difficult. And middle school? I can’t even imagine. If all you did was throw a pen down, it sounds like you had tremendous patience. I like how you turned it from what you expected to teach to what the job taught you.

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