Is the first always the worst?
I have just been offered a new job, well to be more accurate, my second ever real job. I loved the interview, the officials were fantastic and funny. But to explain why I’m not completely excited and raring to go with this job, I have to take you back a few months…
…To my first job
I had an interview for a Teaching Assistant Placement, and by the time I got home I had a phone call with a job offer. Although it wasn’t with the age group I’d applied for I thought to myself ‘fantastic, a job’, and took it immediately.
When I turned up for work I received no instruction, training or explanation. Instead a building was pointed out to me and I was told to go there. When I got to the door I realised it was coded. No one had given me a code. I had no contract. So, in the classroom I did anything and everything I could.
I didn’t particularly enjoy Early Years, but I didn’t let that effect my interaction with the children. The only blunt flaw I can recognise honestly was my unwillingness to go into the staff room at lunch.
And then there was a pair of wellies.
A young child couldn’t find them, so the class teacher asked me to help with the hunt. I didn’t know another Teaching Assistant was also on the trail. I found them, and she doubted they were genuine so I lifted them over the child’s head to show her.
This sounds inconsequential and just an average part of an Early Years Classroom Assistant’s day. But then I walked back into the classroom and saw this same TA doing a derogatory mocking impression of me.
I was shocked, first trying to convince myself it wasn’t me she was doing an impression of. I knew it was.
I made the decision that I would wait until all the children had gone home and then confront her on it. I would ask whether I had upset her and let her vent and explain. I would then apologise and explain that I never meant to make her feel however it was I made her feel.
That is how I wanted it to go.
This is how it went…
“Hi, sorry. Have I annoyed you?”
“Yes, and if you keep talking to me I’m going to slap you around the face”
I nearly fell over. I immediately apologised even though I had no clue what had made her feel so violent. I tried to find out by asking a few times, but her friend warned me off by telling me she would follow through on her consistent repeated threat of ‘a smack’.
I knew deep down that this was the end of this job. How can you work alongside a woman that wants to hit you and another that supports her?
They left me standing in the car park. I started crying. I phoned my dad who told me to immediately report it because she couldn’t speak to me like that.
I went into the office quite hysterical, which I regret. The Deputy Head took me into the office and got me a tissue and a drink and explained that I shouldn’t act like that in front of a parent. I apologised. Then the Head Teacher turned up and repeated the same reprimand three times making me finally say, ‘look, I said I was sorry’.
I told him what had happened, and to shorten his response it consisted of two main phrases;
‘You need to learn to be more mature in an adult workplace’
‘You should go home and spend the weekend self-reflecting’
I left as my dad said he was outside to pick me up. I told him what had been said and he asked my permission to go in and listen to Head Teacher himself. I think he believed I was missing something out.
Another choice phrase from the Leader of a Primary School:
‘We don’t know what was actually said yet’
Now, I’ve been offered this new job. Everything about the job itself and the application process has been completely different. And so was I.
During the interview for that first job I was incredibly posh, prim and efficient. It made me nervous to be myself when I started. This interview began with the male member of staff making a joke about my name and so I thought ‘I’m just going to be myself, sarcasm and all’. It went very well. But I didn’t expect to be qualified enough for the position.
I got the email yesterday with the job offer and contract in black and white.
I’m petrified it will be a repeat of the first time.
I don’t want to quit a job with an official title, in a university setting, doing something I think I will genuinely enjoy.