It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. In fact, it’s been a really long time, but I’ll make up for it with this really long recap of my school year. It doesn’t hurt to be reflective, and it also makes my ls Jazmin happy when I do this.
Hands down, I really can’t complain when it comes to my first year of teaching especially after comparing stories with some of my friends who were also teaching their first year. When I think about it, my first year was an absolute cake-walk compared to theirs. I had great days this year. My great days made me smile and beam because my students were behaving, did something magnificent, did some higher level thinking, or even displayed a great role of character. These were the days that made me happy to be a teacher; the days I lived for and wished would happen on a daily basis, but they didn’t. On the other hand, I also had bad days. Days that made me leave work thinking, “what the hell have I gotten into”, or my personal favorite, “being a journalist wouldn’t be a bad idea after all.” I can say that the later thoughts were few and far between, and that I’m okay with my career for the time being.
Before, I said this post was going to be long, so to make it easier for my readers with ADD like myself, I’m gonna break it into sections, that way you’re not so overwhelmed by all the print! I know…I know…I’m very considerate!
What my first year has taught me……
Get every vaccine possible: This year, I’ve caught everything. From the stomach virus to strep throat to minor sinus infections, I’ve had it. These short term illnesses have taught me that kids carry everything, and it’s just best to be vaccinated….this is something I plan to do whenever a shot is available.
Take time for yourself: I think every first year teacher has the goal of being the super teacher….. I know during the first semester that was my goal. I was coming to work at 7:30 am, leaving at 5:30, and even spending most Sundays getting things graded and arranged. It finally hit me in November that I wasn’t superwoman, and there was no way I was going to have all of those essays graded overnight and I needed to stop trying. After I realized that, my long work days were short lived, and it made it so much easier to come to work because I was rested…and the students work was still graded. It may have taken a while longer, but they got it which is what really matters.
3. Don’t take yourself too seriously: Sometimes as teachers I believe we take ourselves too seriously. When I say that, I don’t mean it in a harmful way. I think we forget that students are people and that they shouldn’t be reprimanded for everything. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in discipline…trust me, but at the same time I don’t believe students should be crucified for every bad behavior. Like adults, they make mistakes, and let’s not forget that, my students at least, are only twelve and thirteen years old. They’re still immature and are going to do things that we believe they shouldn’t be doing. This year has taught me to take most things lightly because if I didn’t I’d be signing planners and sending kids to the office all day. I’ve learned that when I laugh at their behavior and/or ignore them, they’re less likely to repeat it. This is something I will always stand by because it helped tremendously with discipline problems.
4. Start each day fresh: This is key!! In my classroom, every day is a new day. I believe that this is so important, especially when dealing with behavior issues, not to hold on to the bad things because often times we let the bad overshadow our thoughts, and we can’t see the good a student may be doing. Every school year, I’ll receive a new batch of students, and I would prefer not to know anything about their pasts because what they did for one teacher, they may not do to me and vice versa. I want to make my own judgments and observations without thinking about what former teachers have to say.
5. Forming relationships makes life easy: This is on a personal level with colleagues and also with students. This year and in my internship, I did my best to make a connection with each student. Pay close attention to their likes, dislikes, and what made them tick. Making these small observations made my school year successful…it helped me know how to approach a child when they were angry, how to talk to them when they weren’t meeting my expectations or not working to their best ability, and it also made it easier for my students to come to me when they had problems.
6. Everybody wants to feel special and deserves respect: My mother instilled in me at an early age that everyone is equal; no one person is better than the other, and most importantly everyone wants to feel wanted. This year, I made it a priority to treat all with the same respect. Everyone from janitors to lunch ladies to colleagues and most importantly my students were treated with equal respect. It doesn’t take much; a single hello, a good morning, or even a smile in the hall in passing shows that you care. I always made sure to give my students a smile or a hug whenever they looked like they were having a rough day. It shows them that you care, and that you’re human. Last year in my internship, I decided to start a tradition that I plan to do every year. I wrote each of my students a letter. A letter just to tell them how much I loved them in class and so on. I personalized each letter because kids are good about comparing things. This small act really makes a difference….people don’t realize how far a compliment goes, and how it can effect someone’s day.
7. This isn’t permanent: Honestly, I don’t see myself in the classroom much longer; I really enjoy teaching kids and interacting with them, but I also feeling like I’m cutting myself short by teaching for twenty or thirty years. I’m giving myself another four to five years because there are a few things I want to do before hanging up my SMARTboard makers. For instance, I want to get my national board certification. I’ve heard from several teachers how great and challenging this experience is, and I really want to give it a go in the next two years.
I attended my ls/sorority sister’s pharmacy school graduation a couple weeks ago, and it kind of gave me a push to go back to school and get a second masters in educational leadership and eventually get my doctorate in something else. I’ve started looking at different doctoral programs, so I’ll know exactly what I want to do, and it’s better to do it now while I’m young and child-free. It’s weird to even say that I want to be a principal one day because I wanted to have a career completely different than my mother’s, and now it seems that I’m following in her footsteps and taking it one step further.
1. I know I’m not the most organized person in the world, but next year, I plan to change that. I want to be more like I NEED TO BE more organized. My cluttered desk is a reflection of my life and how I function. I work better under stress and chaos. My desk is also a reflection of my brain; my brain is everywhere. I have random thoughts entering and existing all day. If it’s a good thought, I need to place it on paper, or it’s gone for who knows how long…a day, two minutes, three hours…I think you get it. I work fine like this, but I often times misplace things. (what a surprise) I have a lot of procedures in place for my students which helped them stay organized this year, but next year I plan to place procedures in order for me…..that way everything will be easier to find, and I won’t clutter more things while looking for others.
. My school receives several new students. I think I received at least ten or more new students after the school year started. It seemed liked by the time I got a new one caught up they were leaving and another student was taking his/her place. Since this is going to continue in my building, I was thinking about creating new student folders that will provide the kids with the materials they need in order to know what’s going on in class.
3. Makeup work…..another thing I need to improve. Last year, I had a folder that contained all make up assignments, but that system didn’t flow as well as I wanted, so next year I plan to have organized files that will have work labeled by the day of the week for absent students to pick up.
I think that’s enough…..this summer, I plan to do a better job of keeping this updated. Now back to enjoying my time off! I’ll leave you with a few pictures of my classes.
|2nd Hour Class|
|5th Hour Pre-AP|
|7th Hour Pre-AP|
|1st hour: I got to start the day with this lively bunch!|
|One of my favorite students that I will miss dearly next year!|