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So...I'm a Teacher Now

Ever since starting my teaching job, I'm already turning into a slave to the man. I'm in school the whole day. I debate on whether to leave right when the bell rings or a lot later so I can avoid the worst of the worst traffic. I prepare lessons for the next day, try and avoid certain co-workers. Probably get more excited for Friday than I did when I was the student in school. Count down the days till I get paid. All that. It's not that teaching sucks. Its highs are as much as it lows. It's super busy, and even when I get a moment to chill, the time just flies, and next thing I know, I'm rushing to the next class. I love all the kids I get to teach. Every single one of them. They are all lovable, even the most difficult ones that try challenge me. To be honest, I wish I wasn't so empathetic so that maybe my job would be easier to complete. But alas, I've been designed that way.

I just finished week 6, and though I still feel like I'm winging a lot, I don't feel as anxious as I did the first week. The good thing about teaching is that there's a routine, and I have to become accustomed to it. By now I think I get the basics, at least the basics that I use day to day.

Learning

Before teaching, I really didn't hold it to much esteem at all. I was still in that stage that many of my students are where their mindset is such that their lives are at the forefront, and have a hard time comprehending other people's lives, especially older and younger people whose worlds are outside their own. I can only think of one teacher pre-college that impacted me. And now, I know how hard that must be. It's a mix of acting, prepping, repeating myself at least 10 times, running up and down to find people to ask how things are done, handing in teacher planners weekly, checking students' diaries, running between classes, arriving late to meetings and classes, asking for supplies, pressing to get paid, and a whole bunch of other things.

In regards with the kids, I really have to get on their level. Like, yes, I can be stern, but, I feel like for me, it's more important to get on their level before I can begin teaching stuff that I want them to put effort into. It's not that I want to be their friend or whatever, I just want to be that teacher that cares. Not so much the perfect one, or cool one. Cos I definitely do NOT have my shit together and I think for some of the really smart ones, it shows. I want to be the one they can talk with and be straight with. Getting to know them is an ongoing process. There are some that are a lot easier to get to know, and others who won't budge at all. I know they're judging me everyday, but I have to learn how to put myself at a distance, so it doesn't deter me from focusing on what I'm supposed to do.

I don’t care about anything else: if I look weird, if other teachers won’t talk to me, if people are always commenting on my classroom, like, at the end of the day, even though the kid doesn’t get it, I want to know I tried at communicating the points through, which is really hard.

I also want to be the one that they can come to for help. I teach mostly junior level classes of high school, so at this point their work performance isn't that serious, but I still want to show them that it matters. I want them to get what I'm teaching. I seriously have so much more work to do. I'm always super paranoid about teaching. Like, I don't care about anything else: if I look weird, if other teachers won't talk to me, if people are always commenting on my classroom, like, at the end of the day, even though the kid doesn't get it, I want to know I tried at communicating the points through, which is really hard.

Baptism By Fire 🔥

Prior to the start of this school year, I had zero orientation. Literally everything I'm doing is based on a syllabus the main music teacher gave me, a LOT of acting, youtube videos,* and what I remember from my school days. What's easy is to fill in the space, to tell them to copy things off the board, to do the homework, but it's hard to manipulate my ideas into other people's heads so to speak. There are actually goals that I have to reach and follow a certain guided syllabus, but I feel like I'm already so far behind, and that my students are not taking the work seriously. Like they're more into just getting it done and copying each other's work, which I get. I mean, homework isn't fun. But, it's supposed to be my job to make sure they put in the effort.

"Baptism By Fire" is a phrase I heard EVERY DAY my first week. I heard it when other staff members found out I was appointed class teacher. I heard it when I was put on duty the first week. When I wasn't given orientation before the first day, when I had to keep a whole class occupied for 2 hours. Of course this made me more terrified! BUT I did survive and make it to the next week.

Struggles

My struggles are laughing out loud when a student does or says something funny. Like when an 8 year old broke into tears because the whole class was talking real loud, and everyone just went real silent. Or when two 11 year olds dramatically explain to me the reasons they were throwing things at each other in class. Also, homework is something I've been slacking on. I think that classes just get too hectic that I'm like, ok, bye! Instead of giving something practical they can do by themselves. Time management, too. I'll have this whole plan laid out, but then I'll find out we need to spend a lot more time on a concept that 90% of the class didn't understand.

And did I mention disorganization?! At first I had planned a whole routine that would let me be organized, but how that all failed! My papers are all over the place, I never make copies long in advance, then I have the printer guy tell me to come back later or get irritated that I didn't print enough. Geez, there are so many people to deal with, it's crazy. Now I'm just thinking I have to revamp my whole organizational plan so it can be super effective.

Fear/Anxiety

Nevertheless, teaching is definitely an interesting job. I can sort of see why some people spend their whole lives in this career, but at the same time, I can't. Lol, it's so taxing. There's something to do, always always. Even at home on the weekends, I'm thinking of that kid with the rags as socks, or what I'm going to do for the next week, or more fun ideas for class. I feel like I'm slowly being pulled into this world of teaching. I don't know if this is my destiny, I'm kind of hoping it's not, lol. Just because of fear, really, and not anything else. I don't want to get attached to these kids at all, but I feel like that's too late already.

I'm fearful of getting 'found out'. Like, just failing in front of my students, the principal, my music teachers, my friend's mum who got me the job.

it’s weird: the whole concept of penetrating through a bubble, but still having people wonder why you’re trying.

I mean, the fact that I'm super unqualified, yet here I am teaching actual people the difference between a semibreve note and a semibreve rest. I just don't want it to show, and I don't want myself to believe in that, and all of a sudden freak out and just have a meltdown in front of everyone. People here gossip like crazy. I mean, not everyone is friendly - or they're friendly but don't want to talk to you. I don't know, it's weird: the whole concept of penetrating through a bubble, but still having people wonder why you're trying.

I do get that I'm not at the priority of everyone's list, and that people are just here to do their jobs, get paid, teach, pay their bills, go back to their non-school lives. But it's still nice to be reached out to once in a while.

Initially I'm at this school up to December, and then depending on how I do, I might be offered a contract for the whole school year. The way things are going now, I might stay the whole year. At first, I was reluctant, because I didn't want to get attached to a place or feel like I was forced to do something that happened to come my way. I look at some of these teachers, and I'm like, no, I can't be like them in 30 years, please. It's 100% fear I know.

Self-worth

Of course I have to feel some type of way at this school. I'm super conscious about everything! But, I have to keep up appearances to get by. You have to know what you're doing here, and because I don't, that's why I get super nervous about being seen as a fraud. To be honest, I have NO idea why I got this job. I met the principal 3 times before getting hired, and he just seemed to believe in me. Like, in this weird teacher way that magically gave me some confidence in my abilities. Ever meet those people who just see potential in you before you do? Like, they have complete faith in you. Where you see under-qualification, they see more than capable. I keep on thinking he's gonna come up to me and talk to me about complaints some people have or things I should be doing differently, but he doesn't look worried about me at all. During the first week he did pop in two of my classes, in which I just completely ignored him like I was just teaching normally, but I was freaking nervous!! Plus, one of those classes were being so cheeky. But somehow, I felt he was comfortable with me.

In total I have about 80 students, and I'm so surprised how cool he is about letting me teach these humans. Even when I was made class teacher 2 days before the job, one of the other teachers said, "Wow, he must really have confidence in you." And I'm just like, "I guess," because he literally knows how little - NO experience I have, yet somehow believes in me?! I just don't get it. But I'm going to go with it, because I need it. Sometimes, I feel like somebody you admire who has confidence in you and your abilities can be the person to make you believe in what you are actually capable of and do your best. I just feel like he sees me somehow. And sees how much I need this experience maybe to get me a little more confident in who I am. Truth be told, every time I have an encounter with him, I always have some kind of internal emotional fireworks. It's most definitely my daddy issues if I'm self-diagnosing this.

Another thing is the students. Especially with the 8 year olds. Sometimes these little flowers just come up prancing at me telling me I'm pretty and they like my shirt. They'll take my hand and walk with me, and on the inside I'm just thinking, Omg, please don't come in for a hug, I'm literally about to cry! If anything I've learnt about kids is how accepting they can be. Like, they don't know me, but they want to and I'm kind of into that lol. These little yet huge things are what boost me throughout the day.

This is my teaching experience so far. More to come, since school is never dull.

Thanks for reading :]

*shoutouts to Real Rap With Reynolds and Toocoolformiddleschool

I'm A Teacher Now Pt.1: Mgeni.org - Reflections on a newbie's first month of teaching at an international school in Kenya.
I'm A Teacher Now Pt.1: Mgeni.org - Reflections on a newbie's first month of teaching at an international school in Kenya.

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