In her first year of teaching, Makayla Imrie ate Goldfish crackers for lunch, battled a broken copier, and was on her feet all day in a classroom without working air conditioning.

But those weren’t the hardest parts of her job.

Her fifth-period class posed perhaps the greatest challenge, with 44 chatty seniors who filled every desk in her classroom.

“This has got to be some kind of joke,” Imrie thought to herself. “This is impossible.”

Imrie, a teacher at Thomas Carr Howe Community High School in Indianapolis, shared how she survived her first year of teaching at a story slam last month hosted by Teachers Lounge Indy and Chalkbeat Indiana at IUPUI.

Here’s an excerpt of her story, lightly edited for clarity and length.

I stood in front of them, and I truly didn’t know what to do. Because they all knew each other, I didn’t know them, they didn’t know me, and, well, you can probably imagine the sight of those first couple days.

I was having a really good day with those seniors if I could get them all in their chairs in 10 minutes. It was the miracle of the day if I had them all silent at the same time and they weren’t talking while I was talking. More than anything, they liked walking around the room and catching up with one another.

… All of these kids in this fifth-period class were annoyed with me every single day. They were annoyed with my countdowns. They got frustrated that I stopped talking if they were talking. And ultimately, every single day felt like a losing battle. 

But I kept showing up. I didn’t miss a single day in my first semester of teaching because I wanted to prove to my kids — and I wanted to prove to myself — that they couldn’t push me away. I wanted to show them that I was committed to them and I wouldn’t up and leave. 

So the countdowns continued into the first weeks and well into the first months of school.

Watch the full video below.