As a fresh graduate entering my first year teaching, my wild and optimistic imaginations of problem-free teaching had swelled in my mind throughout the summer. Having procured my first job, moved my family, and prepared a series of units and lesson plans, my fantastical hallucinations of teaching bliss were soon to culminate into reality as the first day of my first year approached.
With my classroom organized to perfection and each word carefully crafted for my first day’s welcoming, I stood at the front of my room early that morning, anxiously waiting for the first students to arrive. I turned my head upon hearing the creak of the door about twenty minutes before the bell, and flashed my best smile, anticipating an eager seventh grader who was sure to be as excited as I.
No. Instead, she drew in her breath, looked me square in the eye, and announced, “Mr. Cureton. I’m so happy my son has you as a teacher. You see, this summer my husband announced that for years he’s been cheating on me and that he planned to run off with his mistress, leaving my children and I flat and alone. My son, being the oldest, has taken it quite hard. And now that you’re here, he’ll look to you as an example of what a man really is!”
Uh… what? I stood frozen and dumbfounded, only able to manage some shamefully weak reply as she departed. Yes, I had chosen this profession to be of positive influence on kids, but no, my utopian teacher dream land hadn’t anticipated such harsh realities. I was prepared to teach the parts of speech and the six traits of writing, but this? Thus, I was introduced to the realities of being a public school teacher, where your job description extends far passed reading, writing, and arithmetic.
(Concluding note – that boy soon became one of my most treasured memories. He was mature, self-aware, creative, and resilient, later excelling in high school and college alike – despite a number of hardships. His mother went back to school, attained her teaching degree, and is now a revered middle school English teacher.)