My first quarter as a teacher has drawn to a close and my grades were submitted today at 10 am. At this juncture, I think it is important to reflect on the things I am proud of, the things I’m not proud of, the lessons I’ve learned, and the skills I have as a result of this experience.
First of all, it wasn’t as hard as I thought to step into the position at the beginning of the second quarter. The teacher in the position before me resigned his position after some legal trouble and the students had a long-term sub for the intervening weeks. The faculty and staff welcomed me with open arms and made me an instant “insider”. In particular, several teachers have gone out of their way to welcome me to the school and to make my transition as a new teacher easier. They have become my friends, my mentors, and my confidants. I thank them sincerely for their time and anecdotes. I couldn’t have done it without them. In particular, the teacher I share a room with (both of our desks are in the same room) has been immeasurably helpful. He put up with all of my questions as to the day-to-day running of the school, the finer points of the grading software, and many other questions regarding the climate and procedures in the school. He is my hero.
I’m proud that I was able to keep my spirits up during the quarter despite the difficulties. I walked into the position the first day of quarter two with no preparatory time. I had to familiarize myself with the school, students and material simultaneously while jumping right into it. Luckily, the long-term sub stayed on that first week and helped make that transition easier. (Thank you, Michelle!) I put in 18 hour days my first two weeks and it paid off by making the rest of the quarter easier.
I’m also proud of the connections I’ve made with the students. I have a regular gaggle of students frequent my classroom just to say hi or to talk over some new development in life. I had several students write me letters revealing some things that I don’t know that I’d be brave enough to share when I was in high school. The students know that they can talk to me about anything without me judging them or treating them differently for it. I allow them to be a different person each day when they walk in the door.
I’m also proud of the methods of differentiation I used this quarter. Some of the projects worked. Some didn’t. But I differentiated and the students “got it”. I’m thinking primarily of my two Mythology courses. My two junior courses have been much bumpier.
I’m not proud of how things worked out at first in Prep 11. I didn’t do anything very interesting with the material that came out of the textbook. And it was first thing in the morning. I lost them and it took me the whole quarter to gain their trust in my skills as a teacher. We’re doing things differently right now, but there are definitely some kinks in the system still.
I’ve learned to be confident in myself and my knowledge. I have also gained confidence in teaching in my style. When I first started, I was so concerned with the expectations of me as a teacher that I didn’t do things my way at first. It took me a few weeks to figure out just how much room I had for creativity and experimentation. Things are much different now and the students are starting to respond.
I’m sure I’ll post an addendum to this entry later on when I think of more to say. Until then, this is what I’ve learned second quarter.