The First Day of School
It is the first day of school and I’m nervous. I feel like I’m in high school again and in a way I have gone back, yet I’m not the student. I barely look old enough to drink. It’s my first teaching job fresh out of graduate school. My first day of school I wore what my vision of teacher attire should look like: A-line dress, high heels, hair in a bun and pearls. I stood in front of the mirror the morning of reassuring myself that I was now a teacher. Twenty-three years old, I still looked like a high school student. This reality made me strive even more to look the part. I would soon come to discover that many of my students looked older than me, hell some practically were my age. Equipped with alot of pedagogy and little practice I prepared to venture into a scary and often unknown realm, the classroom.
On my way to my classroom I stopped in the teacher’s bathroom for one more mirror check when, “Get out of here” an older woman bellows from the stall. She appears and continues, “This restroom is for teachers only”. “I am a teacher”, I reply with my strongest voice that still ends up squeaking out like a little girl. “Oh”, she apologizes “I’m Margie, welcome”. She asks me about myself and in the same breath says, “You seem like such a nice girl. What are you doing here? The best advice I can give you is to get out while you can. This place has a way of sucking the life out of you. If I could have I would have a long time ago”. That was the beginning of the end.
I walked to the room and when the bell rang for homeroom I froze. Standing in front of twenty-seven seniors I couldn’t speak. I quickly started to perspire and wondered if they could sense how terrified I was. Definitely not the confident teacher I was hours before standing in front of the mirror. It was like my first day of kindergarten all over again and I wanted to go home. I made an excuse to step out of the room for a minute and walked next door to a veteran teacher’s room. She could tell immediately that I was having a panic attack and calmed me down by letting me know that everyone goes through the first day jitters. I walked back to my room and pulled it together. First period went smoothly. I couldn’t believe how quiet they were. What was this Margie woman talking about?
Second period was not so quiet. A fight broke out in the middle of the class within the first ten minutes. Two girls wanted to jump another girl because she offended them. “Fuck you, don’t call me white. I ain’t white.” “Yeah, well you act white. What the fuck are you then?”, the other retorted. I’m trying to teach an English lesson and they’re debating race. I didn’t think that it would escalate beyond arguing until both girls got up from their desks and charged towards Cassandra. “Sit down ladies, settle down”, I said in my most authoritative voice that was drowned out by cheers encouraging the girls to fight. I soon regretted my choice of outfit as I tried to pull the girls off of each other while the boys screamed for blood and made bell noises as if round one was just getting started. In my dishevelled appearance I dragged both girls off the other. Clenching one in each arm, waving furiously I dropped them off with the nearest security guard.
After the fight, students settled back into their seats. Silence filled the room. One hand slowly raised in the air, “Miss, you’re like Superman”. Then another student called out, “Miss, you gangsta”. After that everything was easier. I had earned their respect.