“I cried every single night for the first three months at this job.“
When a colleague said this to me after my arrival at the school several weeks ago, I thought: This isn’t going to happen to me. I’m not going to cry another single tear in relation to the teaching profession. I was convinced that I had done all the crying humanly possible during teacher training. By the end of it, I thought of myself as indestructible and ready to take on any classroom I’d be thrown into.
As always, life is teaching me to think again.
I didn’t cry when this morning, almost out the door, I suddenly felt so violently sick that I spent the next twenty minutes throwing up while in between attempting to stand up again.
I didn’t cry on my way to work, while (yet again) contemplating the possibility that I just wasn’t cut out for this job. Not strong enough. Not professional enough. Not organised enough. (And so many other things.)
I didn’t cry when I arrived at school and four of my kids told me that they were having either bad stomach aches or diarrhea. (We should just have cancelled the lessons and opened up a sickbay in our classroom.)
I didn’t cry when I realized at lunchtime that there wasn’t enough money on my cafeteria account to actually buy lunch and it dawned on me that all I was going to eat in the course of the day were the two bananas I had brought with me.
I didn’t cry when I finally handed over all my kids’ transcript folders to my boss, after chasing them off of the parents for weeks, then him bringing half of them back to me after ten minutes because the parents hadn’t signed where it said: “Parents sign here: _______“ (and of course I hadn’t checked).
I didn’t cry when I sacrificed my own Japanese lesson (which for me is the high point of my week) in the afternoon in order to prepare lessons for the next day.
Here is why I cried.
I cried after work today because while walking home, I recalled all the moments my colleagues had been supportive of me today and the days before.
Like my colleague from the other year 2 class, who keeps sharing her motivation and her teaching material with me. Being new to the job as a class teacher, everything I do still takes up so much time and I barely get all the organizational stuff done, let alone prepare lessons. I’ve heard her say “I prepared this for such and such lesson tomorrow and made you 19 copies“ more than once now and I can’t even begin to explain how much that helps.
Or my colleagues who’ve been at the school a year or two longer than me and immediately answer every question I have (in person or by an e-mail reply faster than light speed), even if I’m asking it for the third time, and also repeatedly keep telling me that everything will get better. (Or repeatedly keep offering me a shot of hard liquor at 8 am. One day I’ll find out if that’s a joke…or not.)
Or my colleague from the German as a Foreign Language department who spent 45 min of her afternoon with me today to discuss the situation of one of my kids, providing me with insights, ideas and guidance on the matter.
Or my colleague from secondary school who I only ever meet at the copy machine these days, but her witty comments always brighten up my day.
And finally my boss, who was so genuinely worried about me calling in sick last Thursday that he talked to my year 2 colleague about it and asked her what he could to do help me and make my life easier. He also wrote an e-mail to me saying he wants everyone of his staff to be alright.
Despite the horrific state I’m in healthwise at the moment, I’m grateful that not only am I learning about the hard work and organization at an international school, but also what being a team really means.
By the way, the colleague who said that she cried every night for the first three months – she’s in her third year at this school now and has recently been promoted to deputy head teacher of the primary school department.