I started this series back in June and have had so many other posts to write that haven't had time to continue it. With my Firsts series, I intend on sharing an array of various 'first times'. You can read my embarrassing story of my First Kisshere.
Let's rewind to late 2003, I'd finished high school and knew I wanted to work with kids. This feels like a hundred years ago now because I can't handle kids in the slightest - other than Kaine, (my nephew) obviously. I applied for an apprenticeship in childcare and was lucky enough to get a place in the primary school I attended.
I worked with a mixed class of about 30 children in Year 1 and 2. Each Monday I spent the day in college and for the remainder of the week I was a classroom assistant from 8:30 until 4.
I can still clearly see my first day. I arrived at reception just before 8:30 am and was taken up to the classroom; here I was introduced to the teacher I'd be working alongside. I was so nervous, I was seventeen years old, I hadn't slept the night before and I had no idea what was expected of me. Although the building was very familiar, my role was different and Mrs M wasn't teaching there when I attended as a pupil, so she was new to me too.
My anxiety disappeared after seconds of chatting with Mrs M (I obviously called her by her first name), she instantly put my mind at ease with her friendly and kind words. After she told me a few things that she wanted me to do throughout the day, I began removing a floral display on the wall to put up new pictures the children had made. I recall standing on a chair with a staple remover in my hand as the kids filed into the room. They were all fixated on me. Even when they sat on the carpet for the register, I could feel their eyes on me.
After the register Mrs M introduced me to the class, told them I'd be here four days a week and I'd be helping her out. The children all went to their colour-coded tables and I was asked to sit with the yellow table and help them with numeracy.
I helped out during lessons; I read to the children; they read to me; we did PE; drank milk; had breaktimes skipping; went on trips. I was very much involved and felt like I belonged in that classroom helping out.
My days were enjoyable, I had such a good rapport with the class and I absolutely loved my job. I was given a lot of responsibility by Mrs M and she was constantly thanking me. I never complained about my job because there was nothing to complain about, I adored it.
My health, however, didn't. I was pushing myself so much that I'd end up in agony and would spend my weekends in bed trying to recover from the pain I'd fought off during my working week. I lasted a year before I ended up in hospital with viral arthritis. My GP didn't know why I was in pain all the time, I wasn't doing anything particularly exerting for a seventeen year old but he advised me that working with young children wasn't good for my health. The kids would get a cough/cold virus and I'd catch it but it'd attack my joints and I'd be laid up for 2-6 weeks. As much as I didn't want to quit, I knew I couldn't keep living this cycle. I was heartbroken.
After I left Mrs M came to my eighteenth birthday party. She was fantastic and made my experience working in childcare so amazing. We've bumped into each other a few times over the years and she always gives me a massive cuddle and tells me that she's never had an assistant as good as me. If I could go back and do it all again, I would without a second thought, but only if Mrs M was there too.