After studying at university for four years, at the beginning of this year I landed my first full time job as a teacher.
This year has been a massive learning curve, stepping into full time work for the first time. I’ve been lucky that I’m working with a really supportive group of teachers who have guided me and taught a newbie like me the ropes.
We all work on Stage One and have grown close throughout the year. But over the last few months, a trend has been developing between my colleagues and I, that as a first year teacher on a relatively smaller salary, is slowly but surely sending me broke.
It all started when Jane* fell pregnant and Linda* who has been working with Jane for a few years now thought it would be nice for us to all put in and buy her a baby shower gift. She asked the other teachers on our stage to chip in too, four of us in total. Wanting to look like a team player I obliged. We each put in $50.
But then Linda decided she wanted to have a team dinner to see Linda off. So we did and in addition to covering my own meal (which I expected) we then split Jane’s meal too. In total, I ended up spending well over $100 on Jane, but being new to the school and wanting to make friends with my co-workers, I shrugged it off.
Then the next month rolled around and it was Belinda’s* birthday, another one of the teachers on our stage. Again, Linda went to town. She decorated her classroom, arranged another communal gift, and we took Belinda out to lunch on the weekend. I found myself severely out of pocket again.
The next month Linda’s* birthday came around and of course, everyone on our stage went all out once again. At this point, Belinda asked me how much I would like to contribute to Linda’s gift one day in the staff room. Jokingly, I said, “What if I don’t want to contribute?”. She laughed but also looked at me quite tensely. “No really, let me know how much you want to put in so I can go out and buy her present,” she responded before exiting the staff room.