|yearbook page from the|
Aurora Middle School,
my first year of teaching
I have written at length about my early teaching years in my memoir--Schoolboy: A Memoir (Kindle Direct, 2012--link to book on Amazon), but I'd like to mention just a few things here about those opening days--that first year.
The most fundamental thing I recall is fear. I was still just twenty-one years old, but I was far from confident. Although (as I wrote previously) I'd had a good time at West Geauga High School with 11th graders (an age and grade I would not teach again, oddly, until 2001), I was very insecure about working with middle schoolers. As I mentioned in my previous post, my supervising teacher at West Geauga HS had sternly advised me to avoid that age level, but there I was ... about to start teaching at a middle school.
I'd been, I confess, a little dilatory about applying for jobs. I'd hoped to go to the University of Kansas to start a Ph.D. in American Studies; I'd been accepted. But then I'd learned they had no money to offer me (not that I really deserved any), and since the only money I had was in my pockets, that took care of Kansas. (I still kinda wish I'd gone--but then, if I had, I never would have met Joyce ...)
So I applied for a job at two schools: James A. Garfield HS in Garrettsville (where my mother had just completed a stellar stint of ten years) and Aurora, which I knew had a fine school system. I got interviews at both places. I don't know if Garfield would have hired me because Aurora called first, and I snapped up the job--even though it would be in, you know, a middle school.
I should add this: Getting a job was easy then. There was a big shortage of teachers around the country, and you really didn't even need to have a teaching certificate to land a job--you could get a "temporary certificate," then go back to school and take the courses you needed. As I think I wrote in Schoolboy, if your breath could steam a mirror, you could get a teaching job.
My dad had helped me find a little apartment in Twinsburg ($75/month)--just about five miles west of Aurora--and had made a down payment on a car for me (a 1965 blue Karmann Ghia--a VW product), and I paid about $60 a month for that hunka junk (oh, did it give me trouble!). It looked snazzy/sporty; it behaved like a constipated man about, oh, my age now. (Photo is from the Internet.) Years later, I gave my dad a check for $300--the amount he'd paid down for that car. And--shall we say?--he was shocked. But grateful.
So ... I had a job. A crib. A car.
What I didn't have? A clue about what to do with seventh graders.
To be continued ...