It all started with a rut.
I was fresh out of college working at my retail job for the company I had interned for my senior year. I was surrounded by pretty things and pretty people every day. This is essentially what I went to college for, to be surrounded by clothes every day. By mid-summer I was wondering what I was doing there. I was completely unfulfilled. I began to wonder what else I could do instead.
I looked into getting an alternative certification to teach, hoping I would get lucky enough to teach what I went to school for, fashion. Several weeks later I signed up for an alt cert program and began studying for my tests. Three weeks later and three tests passed I was officially able to teach in the state of Texas. After months of substituting I found the job of my dreams! I was going to teach Fashion Design and Interior Design. CTE teachers know it’s a rarity for our jobs to ever open up, and how blessed was I to find exactly what I wanted as my first teaching job?
Weeks later I somehow landed my first teaching job, and I still cannot fathom how I talked my way through that interview. I remember one question in particular, “How will you gain the respect of your students? You are so close in age to them.” My answer was, “I will call each student by Mr. and Miss as they are also expected to also call me Ms.” I found this response somewhere online in my wee hours of teaching research to prep for my first interview. I laugh at that response now that I am several years into this profession and I have never once called a student Mr. or Miss.
As any teacher will say, your first year teaching will be your most difficult. And once again, I look back and I cannot fathom how I survived that first year. Not only was I teaching Fashion Design and Interior Design, but I was actually hired to teach four other preps. Yes, you read that right, I taught six preps my first year. Non-teaching friends reading here-this is not normal. Teaching friends- you know this is not normal but yet you probably aren’t surprised. We are often talked into things for the sake of our students, or in my case my soon-to-be students.
Six preps up to my knees, I was learning to balance it all- how to create relationships and lessons for my students, a brand new marriage, and newly divorced parents of my own. I not only started a new job at 23, but a new life really. I remember it was September and I was studying for my PPR when I got a phone call from my parents, after 25 years of marriage they would be getting a divorce. Everything was standstill at that very moment. I was the student who went home almost every weekend of college to hangout with my family, how could I not have known this was coming? A harsh new reality came fast and hard.
Fast forward to May. I was almost done with my first year of teaching. I come home to suitcases packed by the door. My (at the time) husband is leaving me. Once again my world seemed to stop spinning. I took a week off and fled to my grandmother’s house. After a week I knew I had to return to work, I had just used all of my days for the year, not that I was truly worried about that. My plan was to resign, how could I face my students? The same kids who asked me personal details about my life (because, teenagers), the same kids who asked me when would I have a baby (again, teenagers). I walked into my principal’s office the morning I came back and told her why I had been out for a week, and that I would like to resign.
I am so blessed and thankful that she would not allow me to resign. I’ll never forget when she said “Hannah, if you resign you will never be able to teach again, why would you do that? You are so good. Stick to it, we only have a couple weeks left.” I was so defeated. I just wanted to quit, and cry, and wallow in my misery. At this point we had two weeks of school left and I dragged myself to that school every day willing myself to power through. At night I would go home and pack my life into boxes. I knew I would not be returning to my school the next school year.
On the last day of school on the way to my brother’s high school graduation I got a phone call from my current district asking if I would like to interview. Through all the rain this was a moment of sunshine for me, an interview for the EXACT position I wanted. I landed the job, and I have now been teaching future teachers for the past three years.
I guess I share my journey that lead up to teaching and to this moment because this is a tough job, but life can make it so much more tough sometimes. Yet, as many teachers say, the students make it all worth it. Truly, without my students, especially that first year in my new school district, I’m not sure what kind of person I would be today. Certainly not as happy as I am now. They saved me. Over and over again.
As much as your students need you as a teacher, I always seem to need them more. They bring so much light and laughter to my life. Yes, sometimes the days are difficult and frustrating, but those days are few compared to the fun and exciting days.
I try to teach my students, our future teachers, the importance of building relationships with their students. I try to teach them all about the great aspects of this profession. I try to teach them to have compassion, to be understanding, and to be passionate. Students pick up on all of these things in teachers. I’m here to share with everyone, including my students reading this, that this, this job right here, is the greatest blessing and best job there is.
Thanks for sticking around to the very end for this long post!