My Dreams are Slowly Crashing Down Around Me

Imagine this: Once, 18 or so years ago, I was a small, little, incredibly tiny first grader. (Seriously, my nickname from all adults was munchkin back then) And back then, 18 or so years ago, I wanted to be a teacher. I absolutely loved my Kindergarten teacher from the year before (except that one time that she made me cry), and was starting to also fall in love with my first grade teacher. Teaching was so much fun! We had all kinds of fun, what with learning to read and write and adding apples to oranges and getting the total sum. Fun, I say!

One clear and warm afternoon (not that I actually remember whether it was clear or warm just that I live in Texas and the majority of days in Texas are clear and warm) I skipped (doubtful) up to my first grade teacher, Ms. Folmer, and exclaimed to her with arms over my head in excitement “I’m going to be a teacher when I grow up Ms. Folmer!” She looked down at me, the joy slowly trickling out of her tired eyes, and muttered “Heh, if you do … come and let me know.”

That moment should have been a warning. But, I was only six and small and what did I really know about what happens in the real world?

Flash forward twelve years and I’m a senior in high school. I’m extremely involved in the theatre department in my predominately white high school. If there were a lot of students walking the halls unwanted or students cussing out teachers and threatening their lives, I knew nothing about it. I had moved passed my first grade dream of being a teacher and adopted a new dream: Theatre.

I was going to be an actress! No, really. I was. All I needed was to head off to Hollywood, find some hot-headed director to make me a star. But, no. I had to go to college. Higher education and all that. So, I went off to college as a theatre major. Well, not really “off to college,” more like right down the street to college. I enjoyed my first semester as any new college student might. I loved the waking up late; the getting up early.

But then came the second semester. I was beginning to get nervous about my dream, my career in acting. Why was I in school for theatre? What major actor has a theatre degree? I just needed to go! I needed to get out and head off to Beverly Hills, swimming pools and movie stars. All of a sudden thinking about my theatre degree made me break out into a cold sweat. I was confused and unsure, feelings that I’m sure all young adults that are in their first year of college experience. But, for me … it turned me off to college in general. Instead of going to class, I spent most of my time sleeping over at my boyfriend’s (at the time) house. Not only did my grades suffer, but my self-worth suffered as well. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had always been so sure.

And then it hit me, A teacher! I thought back to that time in my life, back when I was a wee little first grader professing my future profession to the awaiting ears of my teacher. I marched myself right down to the advisor and changed my degree course to English. I was going to be an English teacher! The best English teacher a school had ever seen. My students were going to be enraptured with the grammar, the language, the novels, the genres by the time that I was finished with them. They would move on to be scholars and each one would send me an email in my old age telling me how I had changed their life.

Eventually, I transferred to Hunstville and Sam Houston’s University and finished my degree there. I did my student teaching semesters in the Klein school district which seemed to mimic my own high school experiences. But, just as I went to graduate, the economy failed. Teachers were being laid off or retiring, and the school district was not filling those positions any longer. I’d gone from an almost certain place in the Klein School District to nothing.

In fact, I didn’t end up getting my first job until October (after a graduation in May) and twenty-seven weeks pregnant with my first child. It was a supposedly suburban school off of 1960 in the Spring school district. I went to my first day with bright eyes and idealistic views. I had in my possession all that I had learned from my 4+ years of college. I was ready to rule the world, or the school … which ever came first.

But, that’s not what ended up happening. If you’ve read my other blog, I’ve already recounted my experiences with this school before I left for eight blessed weeks of maternity leave. Upon my return, things had seemed better. My students were tortured for two months with various substitutes and were ready for some structure. I think that they also realized that I wasn’t going anywhere and they should just get used to me.

I started this last six weeks with my idealistic views in full force again. These kids were starting to enjoy me now! Maybe they’d actually learn something from me … maybe they’d actually do work. But, it’s after TAKS now, and it’s like pulling teeth to get these students to do any work. I’ve explained to them that five days after the work has been assigned, it goes into the grade book as a zero. And yet, here it is two days before the day that I send grades for their progress reports and send home these little sheets of paper with the scarlet numbers that say that they are failing. The numbers that claim that they have learned nothing this semester. The numbers that make it look like I did not do my job.

The thing is … maybe I didn’t do my job. I definitely haven’t done the job that I wanted to do. I’m too quick to judge, too quick to roll my eyes, too quick to get angry. It’s just so hard with these kids … these kids that make arm-pit farts during TAKS assessments, real farts while we’re taking spelling tests, these kids that play music that they aren’t even supposed to have in the building to begin with louder than should be humanly possible. These kids that are rude, crude, crass, and disrespectful.

These kids that are nothing like the students from my high school. These kids that are nothing like the students I want my son to grow up with.

These kids that will make me go pre-maturely grey. Kids that leave my room a complete mess with their balled up pieces of paper and airplanes. Kids that talk about things that should not be talked about in front of their significant other much less in front of the entire classroom.

These kids that are slowly draining the idealistic dreams that I’ve had all these years about being a teacher. I don’t think that I’ve changed any of these student’s lives. I don’t know that I CAN change any of these student’s lives.

And twenty days before the end of the school year … I don’t know that I want to.

    • Sheryl Lobue
    • June 24th, 2010

    Jesus….more confirmation that I shouldn’t teach…. Sorry it’s not what you had hoped it would be. 😦 Maybe next semester will be better!

    • Um, yeah 😦 I really hated it. Actually, I won’t be teaching next year! Aaron and I are moving to Nebraska and I’m staying home with Liam for at least a year. It takes a lot more to get certified in Nebraska and since we are moving in August, I’m not going to have time to get certified and get a job at the beginning of the year. I definitely don’t want to start in the middle of a year again FOR SURE!

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