I had a rough time last year as all first year teachers believe. After my contract ended and I was tossed back into the substitute teaching pool I can honestly say I was a mess of an educator.
My confidence was shot. Time after time last year between the students and administration I was shot down, criticized and told off, all with zero positive upswing. No celebrations, no congratulations. When students succeeded hitting the 90s on their PAT, it wasn’t because of me, or the student, the reaction was “I believe they could’ve done better.”
This left me wondering if what they thought was actually true, was I not a good teacher? Was I really a let down from the person they hired? (Actual conversation I had last year). Should I do something else?
Then the hiring season came around and it was no, after no, after you’re not qualified, someone had more experience, keep applying champ, etc.
When I started subbing again I was uninterested; the whole thing felt tedious. I was there because it was good money and finding part-time work is tough (honestly, you tell someone you’re a substitute teacher they just throw your application to the bottom of the pile). I lacked the excitement and passion I had at the start of the 2015 school year. When you’re subbing it’s movies, tests, work periods. No teaching, and definitely not teaching your way. As the year had progressed I felt more and more lost. Avoiding sub calls and longing to get out of going anytime I accepted one.
Until this week.
I had picked up three days in a grade 7 math and science class at a school that I really truly love to work at. The students and the staff made me feel welcome, I begun to wear my chucks again (those shoes are magic, not unprofessional, no matter what people tell you), and I felt like myself. The position I was subbing for surprisingly opened up. Naturally I applied, I firmly believed that the universe drove me to this position (clearly I have watched too much Dirk Gently). Again, the usual, “We hired someone who was more qualified.” As I cried and talked to myself on the way home something hit me.
I am qualified. I am a teacher. I am a junior high teacher with a Bed (Drama/Social) and BA (Drama). I am crazy enough to love teaching junior high, I have the passion and the attitude to help those kids succeed. But because I have never been given the chance to teach math or science, I am unqualified. Because I lack the skills for higher level university mathematics and science, I am unqualified. I don’t mean to discount math and science teachers, you worked very hard to be where you are.
But a smart high school student could teach junior high math. It’s not the university level understanding the subject matter, it’s understanding how to be a teacher. I respect and understand why I was told no, but I thoroughly believe that if a teacher has passion and drive they can do anything.
I knew some of what I was covering those days, but I could see those kids struggling. I marked their tests and they were drowning. But instead of sitting back, reading off the slides and letting the kids struggle, I changed the plan. I went home, designed a review lesson, learned the material and the next day every kid in that room understood and participated. I consider that a win. I consider that education.
If a teacher genuinely loves what they do, they will go in to that classroom everyday determined to teach those children. If you have found the area you thrive in don’t let anyone tell you otherwise; you know your kids, you know what success looks like for them, and you will do everything in your power to make that happen.
I am not going to let set backs and negative bystanders tell me what I can and cannot do. I’m going to learn, create, design, plan, do anything I can until I am where I know I belong.