South Central Teaching Job and Panic Attacks
Teaching as a profession is hard no matter where you are working. I’ve taught in Private Christian Schools that were similar to Southcrest Christian School and I’ve taught in inner city Los Angeles at one of the most dangerous schools in the country. Both situations were hard because you have so much work to do during school time and so much work to do after school just to get ready for the coming day. Both types of schools require constant attention – Lesson plans, committee meetings, classroom discipline, parents, etc. I think teachers have the hardest job on the planet and I regret treating my teachers so badly when I was a youth. Besides that, teachers are severely underpaid and underappreciated.
With all the generalization behind us, I want to get specific about my time teaching 7th grade history at John Muir Middle School in South Central LA. It sucked. Let me tell you why it was so bad. First of all, when the school year got started, I had an average of 36 students per class with one actually having 45. There was no way I could get this many kids to pay attention especially when there were only 35 desks. That’s right. All the chairs filled with nine students either standing or sitting at my teacher’s desk. Secondly, there were no history books for the students. I had to lesson plan for them without them having the basic materials. It was silly. Third, some of the kids were violent and were always fighting or threatening to kill each other. Fourth, the students were disrespectful. I needed another teacher to just sit in the room and handle discipline. Fifth, if you sent the kids out to hall or to the principal, they would just leave the room and take off. Sixth, the principal told me that it was important not to send any kids to his office because he was dealing with much more serious issues. Seventh, they had to regularly lock the school down because of gang activity. One time, two guys with machine guns broke into the school and we had to hide under desks until they were captured. Eighth I found out that the teacher I was replacing had committed suicide by hanging himself in the classroom. Not a very encouraging place to be.
Needless to say, my work environment was horrible and I had panic attacks before almost all of my classes. I couldn’t eat because of the stress and I dropped down to 120 pounds. I cried hysterically every night when I got home and no matter my best attempts, I finally quit.
Here are my recommendations: Don’t be a teacher unless you are tough, resilient, willing to be treated poorly and thick-skinned. I salute every one of you teachers out there. You are superstars.