The Assistant Principal interrupted my great math lesson about circumference to hand me a stack of papers. He quickly said, without making eye contact, “Give each of your students one of these to take home to their parents.” I looked at the heading of the papers. I looked at him. I looked back at the heading to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Then, I looked back at him. He walked off. The heading stated:
This teacher Tysheka Harris is not qualified to teach your child.
So, to make this extra embarrassing moment even worse… I had to give each one of my seventh graders this document. Then, greet their parents the following day at Open House. Fun, right? Of course, I contemplated throwing the papers in the trash and acting as if I passed them out but I was a first-year teacher. I couldn’t do that. I was too scared.
I passed them out to my students and quickly said: “I need to take my PPR exam so that I will be considered qualified.” One student responded, “Well damn, what do you call the teachers who have all the certifications and still can’t teach?” Yup. My innocent 12-year-old continued this conversation into the hallways, cafeteria, and everywhere else because she was upset. Little did she know, she had me lit because her support for me was also the spark of other teachers questioning my credentials.
The next day arrived and I pretty much spent my time explaining to parents why they received the terrible letter instead of me greeting them with the “First-Year Teacher Open House” norm:
- Colorful sign-in sheets (I’m super basic: black and gray)
- Chocolates and Laffy Taffy
- Loaded Newsletter basically talking about my qualifications (when I was clearly unqualified)
- Presentation with the best transitions
Just a hot mess!
Needless to say, I spent this particular year working extra hard- not only for my students but also my reputation as an educator. This was one of the best obstacles I’ve faced thus far: professional humiliation. Now, I know you are probably asking, “How in the world is this lady Making Money Moves?” Check out the insight into my personal reflection:
Why were you placed in this position?
I procrastinated my last semester of college to take the PPR exam which resulted in this fearful moment becoming a reality.
How did you feel when you were in this position? Why?
I felt embarrased, belittled, undervalued, and angry. I’ve never been publicly humilated so to experience this in a professional setting where I was trying to develop my craft, reputation, and network- it stifled me as others began to question my overall worth.
How did you get out of the situation?
I saved my little coins and took the exam ASAP. Luckily I passed it on the first attempt. I was able to email my results to the principal right away.
What did you learn from the situation?
Procrastination is not only a thief of time but it is also the quickest way to drown in the perfect storm you were preparing for.
How did you use this lesson/test to further your drive?
First, I checked myself about how my reality was a direct correlation of my careless irresponsibility. After accepting responsibility for almost ruining my lifelong dream (being a teacher), I used this as motivation in three ways: (1) I value the impact and influence of my profession even more as I almost lost my first job within the first two months, (2) I prioritize engagements and activities to ensure important plans get sufficient energy and attention, (3) I will never be called unqualified again. I put it in overtime to not only show I was qualified but I’m one of the best in the district.
Take a few moments to think of a time when you procrastinated and it almost cost you your job, relationship, opportunity, life, etc. Have you made #BossMoves to ensure it won’t happen again?