My first job out of college was as a waitress, at Serendipity 3 in Boston’s Fanueil Hall. I didn’t know it then, but I was training for parenthood: learning to juggle the needs of many people, all of whom thought they took priority. Primary difference between waitressing and parenting? Mostly my kids aren’t drunk when I serve them dinner.
I waitressed all summer after graduation because I hadn’t gotten a high-school teaching job. I’d done my student teaching, gotten my certification, sent out job letters, gone on interviews. I’d hoped to get a job where I’d done my student teaching but they’d hired someone with more experience. And then the Friday before Labor Day weekend, the superintendent’s office called me, offered me a job, and told me to show up for the first day of school.
I had to be there at 7:30; school started at 8:00. That first year, I taught six sections of five different classes, which meant I saw about 125 kids a day, five days a week, The kids were done about 2:40, we had to stay until a little after 3:00. The school was in a small suburb of Boston, about a 40 minute drive, depending on traffic and how hard I was crying. I cried every day.
I cried because I was twenty-two and trying to teach kids who weren’t that much younger than I was. On my second or third day, a kid raised his hand and asked me how old I was. Like an idiot I told him and he slouched back in his seat. “I pahtay with people oldah than you,” he drawled (it was Massachusetts, after all. They all had wicked bad accents).
I cried because on my first day a student who I’d met when I was student teaching had raised her hand in response to the very first question I’d asked as a Real Teacher. I had called on her, ready to start shining the beacon of learning into her mind. “Did you color your hair? It’s kind of purple,” she asked. Continue Reading →