This is a fun blog post. The aim is to get people to share self-deprecating stories about missteps they made in their first days of teaching and what they did to recover.
My first day of teaching (way back when) was a mess. I wore black because I’d been told by a uni lecturer that would make me instantly the most fearsome thing on campus. During recess that day I was told off by another teacher in front of my students – told to report to the principal for being out of uniform and wearing makeup and asked: ‘And why isn’t your hair tied up, young lady?’.
In the fourth period, a student stapled a piece of paper to her thumb. As the blood spread across the white page I said numbly (and incorrectly), ‘I became a teacher because I hate blood’. The student burst into tears and I found the strength from within myself to pull the staple out and apply a tissue. The student lived.
With the end of the day in sight, I thought the last period would be fine. That is, until I turned on the ceiling fan causing a cascade of chalk dust to fly in every direction across the room. As the class erupted into laughter at the sight of my new black clothes covered in a coating of white, the only solution was to laugh as well.
The step from being a supervised uni student into fully fledged responsibility for students was large and scary. I started as a CRT, and although I was fortunate to find a mentor at one of my schools. That was due to his generosity of spirit, not a formal mentoring process. Eventually the whole faculty took me under their collective wing, and I reached out to my professional subject association as a volunteer and found even more cheerful willingness there. I got involved with my union. The wider I set my gaze, the more possibilities arose, and the more mentors I found.
So now that I’ve shared with you my rocky start as a teacher (and believe me, there are many more stories to be told), share yours below.