Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Emotional Vomit and My First Year of Teaching.

I found the picture for this blog at the Edvard Munch website. He was this amazing expressionist painter, and this is one of my all-time favorite paintings. I think it expresses so many things.

Teachers almost always shudder when they tell you about their first year. It's usually overwhelming, depressing, frustrating, and downright frightening. It does get better by year two or sometimes even three, but in the middle of year one...it's all we can do not to run away screaming.

I wrote a lot of poetry that first year teaching, but I can't claim that it's any good. It's angry, and it's what I like to think of as "emotional vomit." You know, where you write whatever feeling or thought flows through your head without any pre-planning or editing. You just vomit up your feelings onto the page.

I actually really like teaching now that I'm finishing my fourth year...but that first year...

If it hadn't been for the gigantic amount of student loans I had to pay off, I might never have continued teaching. So- Hooray for prohibitively gigantic amounts of debt!


I don’t like who I am.
I am someone who yells; I am someone who lectures.
I try to help them, but they fight me and fight me.
At the end of the day, my throat is sore from yelling.
I demand obedience and respect.
And kindness does not seem to help.

They see me as insignificant.
To them I am a bug, I am to be ignored.
“Who is that person buzzing around up there, at the front of the class?
Let’s ignore everything she says;
What is her problem, anyway?”
You are my problem, you cretins!

I always secretly thought that if
You cut me open and took a good look at my heart,
What you might find would be genuinely good, genuinely pure, and genuinely kind.
But instead, once I am put in the crucible of the classroom,
I become horrid and unkind.
My heart is breaking…but today, it’s not for my students,
It’s for me, and for the slow death
That any kindness or patience I once possessed is slowly undergoing.
I am, under it all…a wretched person.