Let’s review this timeline in case we want to go back and see what music was popular during this time in my life 🙂
July 1999 – I got married and was taking summer classes to finish my degree
2000 – I had graduated from college and was living in a tiny town in Northeast Arkansas (near West Memphis) where Ron was preaching at his first church and attending seminary in Memphis.
2001 – I tried the whole “stay-at-home-wife” thing, but it just wasn’t working for either of us, we were trying to get pregnant on our own at this point (meaning, no fertility treatments), and I HAD to do something to get out of the house. This is where today’s story begins…
I’ve always liked teaching, so that seemed like a natural thing for me to do as I found myself living about three hours from my parents with not much to occupy my time (you can only watch French Kiss so many times), so I headed to the local public school.
I didn’t care what subject I taught (although I preferred English, since that’s what I knew most about), but I just wanted to teach. I went into the office (there was only one office for the Kindergarten through 12th grade because the whole school system was in one location — I told you it was tiny!) I asked about a substitute position, and they told me that they had someone who was substituting now until they found someone to fill the position full time. I asked what subject and grade and was told it was high school English. This seemed fortuitous and maybe predestined, so I accepted it. There was no application process, no interview except for a quick one with the superintendent of schools after I said I would take the job. It was about lunch time when I was finished talking with him, and he told me I could join the afternoon classes and meet some of my students before I took over the class in the morning.
This is where I tell you that this was the FIRST day of school for the year. So the kids were having their first day at the same time as me, and I had NO summer planning time or anything. The superintendent’s secretary told me that there were books in my classroom and I could bring them home and start my planning.
I took exactly ONE education class in college. We got to the part where we had to make lesson plans and those types of things, and I quit. I dropped out of the only education class that I had and majored in English… not education… for this very reason. And now I’ve stepped right into a job that requires the very thing I dropped a class because of… so I’m super excited! 🙂
Lunch is over for the students and the superintendent walks me into the high school building to meet the principal. We’ll call him Larry because he will feature prominently in my teaching stories. Larry seems friendly enough, and pleased to have a permanent teacher for his English class. So he leads me down to my classroom. We have to walk all the way through the main building and out to a smaller building at the end. There are four rooms in this “extra” building (not counting the bathrooms), there is the band room, the high school science room, junior high English room, and my room… the last room in the last building on campus.
We walk in just as the kids are coming into class. I quickly learn that this is my 11th graders. They are the only class big enough to be split into two classes for English. I will have one class of 11th graders who will come 2nd period, and then the rest of them will come right after lunch for 5th period. If you didn’t have a school with seven periods a day, go find a history book or google is and see how things used to work! 🙂 I know they still have it in some schools today, but most of them have changed the way the day is scheduled.
Anyway, I meet the substitute teacher. A VERY nice woman whom we will call Pinky. I ended up growing quite close to her and her daughter (who happened to be in this class). She tells the kids to sit down and maybe assigns them something to do, but I don’t really remember. I remember thinking they were really loud, and feeling overwhelmed that I was going to have to get them to sit down and listen to me teach them.
Pinky sat with me at the teacher’s desk and got out all of the books I would need. I was looking through the books and feeling even more overwhelmed as it really began to sink in that I would be in charge of teaching a lot of children every day. My schedule looked like this…
- 1st period – planning (this came in handy when I wanted to sleep late… I had first period off… it was a pain though that I really had NO break for the whole school day)
- 2nd period – 11th grade English (only 9 students in this class!)
- 3rd period – 12th grade English (the entire senior class had about 22 students)
- 4th period – 10th grade English (the entire 10th grade came to this class… around 25 students)
- 5th period – 11th grade English (the rest of the junior class… 28 kids… the bane of my existence)
- 6th period – Speech (yeah… I had to teach speech… a lot of the 11th graders from 5th period just stayed for speech)
- 7th period – Journalism (umm… really?? Again… a lot of the 11th graders from 5th and 6th just hung out)
I had about 11 or 12 of the same students from 5th through 7th periods… I enjoyed having some of them all afternoons, but some of them were just stuck with me because no one else wanted them.
What does this mean as far as planning goes? I had FIVE different lesson plans to do for EACH DAY!!
So… I’m sitting at the teacher’s desk, next to Pinky, looking over the teacher’s guides for my classes and trying to block out the noise from the students. It finally gets too loud and I look up to see Pinky pulling two children apart!! She’s not that big to begin with… well… she’s not that tall! And she is pulling these children apart and yelling at them for trying to fight “on the first day of school”.
The kids were screaming and cussing at each other and still trying to fight, and I sat at the desk, uncomfortably staring at the scene in front of me… I should’ve run out right then and never looked back…
Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!