I started teaching (having my own classroom) February 2007 for a Houston area head start. Hindsight being 20/20 I never should’ve been a teacher. I should have done something else. That is another story for another day. I had all kinds of crazy stuff happen that first year and a half of teaching. From working under a major leadership shakeup (3 different bosses in 18 months), 2 kids being majorly injured, kids with serious aggression issues, children being neglected, people having custody battles and kids caught between.... It was none of the stuff they teach you when you are learning how to be a teacher. So I figured if things are this crazy I should try a School district. More training opportunities and more financial resources.
The first year sucked majorly. I had a principal that yelled at me all the time for not knowing stuff I didn’t know I didn’t know. She would literally open the door and scream about whatever, whenever she wanted. I lost a ridiculous amount of stress weight, worked my butt off to fill the knowledge gap, and tried really hard to find a school that I thought would be different. I transferred after one wild and crazy school year.
Things were better at the new location until the year I got pregnant, which was also the year my mom’s cancer came back. I’m typically a private person. I spent the time with my mom and hindsight, I should’ve stayed with my mom longer than I did. I was afraid to miss too much work. I rushed back to my class and gave them 110% I had a few wild ones but was able to do a lot with those kids. I’m really proud of that group. On the other hand, I was trying to figure out this whole pregnancy thing. Am I happy about it? Should I be happy even though my mom is so sick? I did a lot of crying and thinking and more crying. I pulled it together for work. While all of this is going on, the administration at my school is pressuring me to tell them if I’m pregnant. I hadn’t announced to my family let alone my friends and now these people who hadn’t ever really been sincerely nice were coming to ask something very personal and saying they care. Bullshit! The more reserved I became at work the more they pestered. They would send people to look at my stomach and try to determine one way or another. It was adults who are supposed to be professional acting like middle school kids. Ultimately, I was confronted during a faculty meeting and they announced congratulations for a pregnancy I hadn’t confirmed and then it was all over social media. So I didn’t get to announce my first pregnancy (they did the same thing during my second pregnancy too). Honestly I’m still very hurt that I didn’t get to make one of the most important announcements in my life on my own terms.
Second pregnancy was the game changer. I was extra hormonal and in a bit of denial. One of the awesome women I worked with snapped me back to reality (I really miss seeing that awesome group of women each day). She told me the truth: I wasn’t a favorite of the administration so I needed to have a plan. So I made one and even in that wasn’t prepared for the foolishness. I was still nursing wounds from damage done during the first pregnancy. Plus being hormonal didn’t help. I wouldn’t be able to announce my own pregnancy the second time either. The principal decided she should announce it for me in the hallway on staff work day. Then that year I had a student with undiagnosed aggressive disability. I would’ve been able to handle it if I hadn’t been pregnant but that pregnancy was tougher than the first one. I had gall bladder complications. They thought I might need to have it removed. I got put on a strict diet. I had a car accident which caused complications. Also one of the custodians at the school who was a huge support for me (sometimes you just need someone to say they have your back or just let you hide in their office and cry), she had a massive heart attack and died while we were working. Then after all that the kid with aggressive behavior hit me in the stomach at 5-6 months pregnant and no one from administration came or sent relief to my classroom so I could get checked out. I ended up staying another 4 hours and then going to the emergency room after work. I could’ve lost my baby. I was also reprimanded via email for missing work following the incident. I saved the email as a reminder to myself. I stayed working until winter break, took early maternity leave and was immediately put on bedrest. The remainder of the pregnancy was painful but the kiddo made it to term and was physically healthy.
Aside from all the stuff that happened during my pregnancies there was the regular teacher drama. Parents cussing you out. Students cussing you out. Co-worker issues. I had my teacher aid telling me I wasn’t a lady because I didn’t wear accessories or because I would look better if I changed my hair etc. Sometimes when you are younger and have new ideas they aren’t received well. You aren’t taken seriously because you look young. I struggled with being taken seriously by certain people because I was young enough to be their child but also in a higher status. Hindsight I should have communicated better. I did the best I could at that time. I also knew I didn’t have any backup and they might believe me but my yearly evaluations would always be about how I should learn to choose my friends at work wisely. Subtle message right? I also struggled with issues that my students and their families were having. On several occasions I had parents confide in me certain things. I was able to connect them to services and try to get them help. On four specific occasions the administration intervened and the parents felt like their confidences were betrayed and it hindered my ability to bond and help those families. Two parents moved their families to a new district.
I made a third attempt at teaching but only lasted a few months. I should have quit while I was ahead. I was too damaged from school district teaching experiences and even after months of therapy I wasn’t in a place where I should have been working with children. I quit one morning and never looked back. Since then I’ve been working to make sure my minis are not awful to their teachers. I’ve been trying very hard to forgive myself for mistakes I made while teaching. I’m still working on speaking up for myself because maybe if I had done that better I wouldn’t have been so broken that I had to walk away the way that I did. I’m working constantly to be more Mom than teacher to my minis so that they feel loved and not criticized or structured all the time.
I do miss all the teacher friends I made. It was the one place where I felt I fit in. I got along with all of my coworkers and I learned so much while I was teaching. I miss it but I will not be going back. I love how life has turned out for me and that I’m truly happy and healing from some very rough experiences.