I’m a 9th grade biology teacher. I’ll be starting my 4th year of teaching this August. I happen to really love teaching, which is a tiny bit surprising considering I only accepted the position because I really needed a job– not the most noble of reasons to enter the career path. I was feeling really burned out my senior year of college and decided I wouldn’t be pursuing a PhD in evolutionary anthropology and scrambled to find something else to do instead. The October before my May graduation date, I began applying for numerous jobs, often hitting the “need X amount of experience I don’t have” wall. I noticed that there were a ton of teaching positions open in math and science— perfect, I’d tutored some kids, I could surely handle teaching high school science content and I liked few things more than rambling on about biology. I dreamed of inspiring some kids for about nine months and using summers off to travel and explore different hobbies.
There are a good handful of school systems that have alternative certification programs for non-education majors like myself, so I applied to all of them. I went to job fairs, I networked, I cried, I applied, I applied, and I applied some more. I didn’t hear a peep back until four days before my graduation. An interview! Lovely! I had two days to prepare. I have an unnatural amount of anxiety about things like interviewing and public speaking (this includes asking a store clerk what isle the spaghetti sauce is on) so I obsessed, and practiced, and cried, and freaked out, and recorded myself talking until I knew I was as prepared as I could ever be (with tons of help from my bff). My dad drove me to the interview. I’d been expecting to meet with only the principal so I was a bit thrown to find three people in a conference room waiting to hear why I was great for the job. I left the building grinning. I thought I’d done a great job. This was confirmed the very next morning when the principal called with a job offer. Forget the, “Why thank you, if I could have a day a two to consider the offer—” No. I think I might have accepted before the words were all the way out of his mouth. Oh well. I was a shinning ball of accomplishment, walking across the graduation stage, job in tow and all A’s in my final semester to boot.
My hopes of staying home a year or two and saving up money to travel were blown away. The school was too far away from my mother’s house. I substituted a trip to Italy for a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with my best girlfriends and then headed home to get ready to be a grown up. My first car and an apartment followed quickly (but not before a horrible two week stay in a crap motel while taking an education crash course). Before I knew it, the school year had begun and there I was, an introverted 22 year old trying to get 14-18 year olds to understand the process of protein synthesis while fielding questions like “Can you explain again why male-female twins can’t be identical? Johnny and Susie look just alike,” and “do you have a boyfriend?” The first year was tough. I was lucky to have an awesome co-teacher, amazing science department and wonderful administration on my side. The school where I work is a great place to be— I was frequently reminded of this after hearing horror stories from friends and family that ventured into teaching with less than pleasant outcomes. So naturally, I felt bad when that irksome feeling of discontentment began stirring in the bottom of stomach. Facebook sure didn’t help matters…