I’ll finish off my New Zealand teaching career with this post. I’m not sure who decided that pregnant women should not teach at the school but it was understood that if you were expecting you quietly resigned before the bump became obvious. I really don’t know why pregnancy in a legally married woman was such a bad example for the girls.
So, I did the right thing and told the headmistress that I would be leaving in December, the end of the school year. At the time, my principal was annoyed by the untraditional behaviour of one of my friends who was also pregnant. She had decided to teach until December but since she was expecting twins in March, she had a very large bump by the end of the year. Nobody could ignore it.
i can’t remember how I expected to fill in the months until July when the baby was due. There are only so many pairs of knitted booties a baby needs. But I didn’t have to lounge around without a pay check for long. A week after the start of school in February, I received a phone call from the headmistress begging me to return for the first term which ended in May. So back to school I went.
I can still recall the first assembly. The staff walked onto the stage after the girls had come into the hall. There was a distinct buzz when I entered wearing maternity clothes. No doubt the girls had figured out why I had left and the loose dress merely confirmed their suspicions.Clothing for expectant women in those days consisted of enough yards of flowing material to cover an elephant. Disguise was the aim.
During those teaching months, I grew tired by the end of the day which wasn’t really surprising. In all kinds of weather, to get home, I first walked down a hill to the railway station, caught a train and then trudged up a much higher hill to our house, carrying schoolwork and groceries. The house itself was reached by navigating 100 steps, a zig and a zag. I feel weary just writing this description.
The teaching itself was fine. I was covering subjects I knew so did not need a lot of preparation, just marking. I had learned enough skills by my third year to know how to keep order in a classroom and how to deliver the required curriculum. MInd you, I had acquired those techniques by trial and error, the hardest way. Looking back on my whole academic career, I realize that I never had training for any of the positions I held. I might have done a better job with assistance and mentoring.
Next week, I think I will write about teaching in Canada. I promise not to take you year by year through my whole career. That would bore us all silly.