I still remember the first day I started teaching. I was naive. I didn’t think I needed to do routines and procedures practice with my kids. I thought I could just tell them and they’d remember.
Clearly, I’d never worked with kids before.
There were so many things I wanted to do as a first year teacher, during my first semester.
And then right after the eclipse in August, by that Wednesday, we’d gotten word that a hurricane was headed our way. By that Thursday it was predicted that it’d be a strong category 4, maybe even a category 5, possibly worse than Katrina. We joked that we’d still have school on Friday. But when they cancelled school, we knew it was serious.
I spent most of that next week, worried about my kids I’d just met but fallen in love with. Were they okay? Did any of them deal with flooding and lose valuable belongings? How many of them would return to my school or be forced to relocate due to the hurricane?
Fortunately most of them would return but a few of them had been affected by the hurricane. As soon as we returned we had to hit the ground running to make up for lost time.
And everything I wanted to do, went out the window, because, I had to prepare them for testing and cover lost ground. In the midst of all of that I had my own personal stuff going on. I moved immediately after Hurricane Harvey into a new spot and had to fly back and forth to Cleveland to take care of some business and see family, in the midst of me teaching.
To put it simply, I had ALOT going on my first semester of teaching. I struggled with classroom management and pacing and faced a steep learning curve of lesson design. I put in long days of lesson planning and procrastinated with grading. There’s SO much to juggle in teaching, it is truly a juggling act that takes lots of practice and preparation.
It is now the end of the first semester and I can honestly say, I’m proud of myself, I’m proud of my students. Gains are happening, even if they aren’t huge. Many of my kids came to me reading grades below the grade they are actually in and many of them are catching up or are caught up. I actually can make it through a lesson now (I couldn’t say that in September or even October)!
But the biggest lesson I learned, is grace. Grace with myself, and with my students. I look at my students when they ask me why I cant be more like Ms. ____________ or Mr. ______________.
But they’re not asking me to be JUST like the other teachers. They’re asking me to be more of myself. To find those parts deep down inside that my kids need. The humor they need in the midst of not so exciting material. The strictness and structure that provides not just boundaries, but safety. And most importantly…the love they need to grow not just academically but emotionally, and socially as well.
All in all, my first semester of teaching was an adventure. I learned alot. I have alot ahead of me for next semester, as I prepare my kiddos for state testing and moving on to the 7th grade. It’s TOUGH but…I love what I do.