I just had my final phone meeting with my supervisor for my summer job. My summer job was intense, and I’m happy it’s over, but while I was working it I gave it my all. There’s actually no way you can’t give it your all. Everything that needs to be done really and truly does need to be done; you couldn’t do your job otherwise so unless you give it your all you will get fired.
I was really happy and excited as I was speaking to her. She asked me what I thought my strengths were, my weaknesses, what I learned. The usual job interview questions except that this was at the end of the job. I told her about the job I’m doing now (teaching 10th grade English and History), and she asked me questions about what books I’m teaching. Overall, a fun meeting.
Then she said she wanted to tell me what she thought of my teaching this summer. She said I did a really good job teaching, but my logistics were not up to par in the second session. I didn’t keep up well enough with submitting my data, and as such they will not be inviting me back to teach next summer.
That really, really hurt.
The only defense I’m going to give in regards to my data submission is that data I was supposed to submit Sunday night, I would submit Monday morning. I taught all day Sunday and would get home close to 9, exhausted. Yes, I was supposed to submit that data on time, but it’s not as if they would look at it before Monday morning anyway.
I think that it was her choice of words that hurt as much as the message. They will not be inviting me back. It sounded like I was being fired. But even more than that, it was the fact that they have no idea how I taught. Where do they get their information from? They are based in another state, and I teach here in Texas. Parents only ever call in to report on a teacher if there is a concern, I have yet to hear about a parent call in because they liked the teacher. I have had so many parents tell me I did an amazing job, and I know I did an amazing job. And that one sentence acknowledgment of me doing a good job teaching? Not nearly enough.
I have dealt with these feelings of inadequacy and incompetency before, and I am tired of it. I teach English and History to 10th graders, and I cannot tell you how awesome I am. I am not saying that to uphold myself or in response to what my supervisor said, I’m saying that because I know. I had English and History in high school, I know what is taught in those classes. The hours, the effort, the passion I put into my work, that is the kind of investment I plan on giving to my own kids to ensure that they are educated well.
Let me give you an example of how much of a difference I make. All through last semester, and my first day of class yesterday, my students compared my teaching to what they had in public school. They do it on their own, talking at length about how they would never learn any of the things I teach at their old school. How their teachers wouldn’t care to answer questions. How their teachers wouldn’t care to help or even explain anything properly the first time around.
I feel how awesome I am as I’m teaching everyday. I love myself as a teacher, and I wish I could have had me as a teacher when I was in high school. I taught math and science last semester because the English and History positions had already been filled, and I hate math with a passion. You know what one of my students said to me yesterday, the first day of school? “You were a really, really good math teacher. I was never good at math and I learned so much when you taught it.”
That’s the secret to being a great teacher: you either suck at the subject you’re teaching so you’re able to teach it the way you would teach yourself (which is really slowly and methodically or you would never understand it), or you love your subject passionately and so are able to impart that passion to your students.
I care. I teach with an effort and passion I have seen in few people, and my students know this. And I make all of $500 a month.
Do I care? Not really. I could make more by teaching somewhere else on the side; both my previous employers have asked me time and time again to come back. I said no for two reasons: I’m tired of giving up so much of my time, and I will not let those jobs take away from the time I know I need to teach my students properly and well.
I kick butt as a teacher. At my summer job, my entire class of middle school-ers told me I should teach at their school. All different schools, mind you. The fought with each other about which school I should go to. They loved me. And they learned oh so much. And they had so much fun doing it. But you’re “not going to invite me back” because I didn’t submit data the second you wanted it done?
I’m tired of this. I’m tired because as awesome as I am, I feel as if the wrong people are aware of it. Not the wrong people, but the people who don’t make decisions for me. I never told my supervisor any of this; maybe I should have. I’ve suffered before because I didn’t tell my supervisor all the cool things I was doing. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t do that. I don’t tell people the cool things I’m doing unless they’re my immediate family or my sister-from-another (but still Hyderabadi)-mother (yes, I realize that doesn’t have the same ring to it as the brother saying, but you get the point). Not even my extended family, who tell me all the cool things they’re doing at work, gets to hear of the awesomeness that is me in my classroom.
I’m almost certain, that as much as I’ve shown initiative and drive and enthusiasm prior to the start of this school year, my boss is not aware of how awesome I am. How can I make them see? Maybe that’s why I’m not getting in to any of my graduate programs, the people who should see me at my best never do. Therefore I never get good recommendation letters. I can almost see it in my head: “She teaches well, but her organization and data submission is well below adequate. She needs to work on that before she can be successful.” And on and on and on. One line on the thing that really matters, and five on the thing that is not really that important since I did do what you asked, and not a week later, or even a day later, but a measly couple of hours later. A couple of hours where you were sleeping.
How do I remedy that? I’m hurt, wounded, tired, and ashamed. And I’m tired of these feelings, because I feel as if they come back every time I get a new job.