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Labor Day Reflections: Lessons Learned During My First Job

This picture was taken 9 years ago. I feel like I was such a baby adult then. I was in between my first and second teaching jobs at this point. I had learned more in the previous year about teaching than my years in college. Lesson plans, grading, communicating with students, parents, and other staff members, and finding classroom management techniques that worked for me were all only a part of the journey. 
I was lucky enough to student teach then get a job in the same high school. My mentor was the most amazing Spanish teacher and taught me a lot about being a strong person and teacher, giving me a better foundation than many I know.

Education is a unique field in that many situations are discussed and content is mastered, but there are so many situations that cannot be predicted because of the human element. I thought I was prepared because I had gone to college, earned that degree, and student taught. Granted, my college career did prepare me for the content aspect, but dealing with a challenging administration and students was the most difficult part. 

People Management

I still remember the first time a student cursed at me. Her name was Cara and she was unhappy because I called her out on not focusing. She was a student who just wanted to get through school as fast as possible. I was trying to get her to stop talking and she said, "It's not my fault you're cranky and a b*%#@." I. Was. Speechless. 

Who and what prepares you for that? 

I sent her to the office immediately, but had a difficult time convincing her mother her behavior was inappropriate. It was my first lesson in dealing with parents not being on my side and the administration not really having my back as they didn't defend me, but sent the mother straight to me. 

Other situations like students throwing objects, flipping desks, or getting in my face also taught me a lot about how to be strong, but not stupid in escalated situations. 

I learned that I was going to have to always be prepared to defend my actions which meant being very careful how I handled certain situations. I also needed to be consistent with all classroom management techniques in order to be fair to all students (this is much more difficult than many think). 

Time Management

Teaching has turned into more and more paperwork, communicating with parents, and tracking all kinds of student information including grades, behavior, and modifications. 

It is not a 9-5 job and never will be. I learned how to be a more effective person with my time, in and out of school. 

Money Management

Teachers do not make much money and I had just purchased a house. I was learning how to manage my mortgage and other bills as an independent person in the world. This can be a hard lesson. I did purchase some items for my house and put them on a credit card. I quickly learned to only spend what I could pay off every month. Credit card debt can drown many and I believe it is because no one really teaches you how quickly it can spiral. Luckily, I have a pretty honest dad who helped me out. 

Of course, I could go on and on about everything teaching has taught me, but people, time, and money management are the ones that seem to be the most valuable to this day. 

What did you learn during your first job? What do you hope your own children learn? 


  1. First of all, THANK YOU for being a teacher. I am always in awe of the hard work too many of us don't realize go into the profession.

    My first job was in retail and it taught me quite a few lessons I didn't like, especially how entitled some people feel, but thankfully I worked with some pretty incredible people.

    1. Thank you!

      Many of my friends who worked in retail as their first jobs always had lots of stories. I'm sure it prepared you for the best and worst!


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