Wow. My first semester as a teacher is over. Wow. What an experience.
Reminiscing, I have learned so much. There have been so many trials but so many wonderful memories as well.
I was so excited on my first day–everything went well. Students were excited and I was excited and everyone was well behaved. I was planned for the next 3 weeks. My room was decorated and full of history. This would last the entire semester–we would have a strong classroom community full of laughter, excitable learners, and deep discussions.
Boy was I naive.
Quickly, I got behind in grading. Which caused me to get behind in lesson planning. Most of the week I was less than a week ahead. Sometimes, I was planning tomorrow’s lesson in the evening, after dinner!
Lessons didn’t go the way I hoped. Students wouldn’t discuss. They never wanted to volunteer an answer or get involved in a class discussion. Only half the students would be productive in group assignments.
My room became a mess. Well, I exaggerate. But my “office area” was less than desirably organized. Bulletin Boards refused to keep banners and posters on it. Pencils and papers littered my floor every day.
Students wouldn’t bring in homework. Projects wouldn’t be completed. Tests failed would never be retaken.
One period had numerous, numerous problems: talking, physicality between each other, not doing homework, being rude and disrespectful, inappropriate responses on classwork, angry parents. And here I was crying home to Justin almost every day in October, racking my brain for different classroom management strategies because the last one didn’t work. Then two students’ parents got very upset and there was a whole fiasco with that. I was scared and I was very sad about the whole thing.
But, there were upsides as well.
I had two Who-vians who loved my Doctor Who references. I had a gaggle of girls who were anime lovers and we would discuss Death Note and Avatar: the Last Airbender. I had another gaggle of girls, with some boys as well who loved to discuss anything and everything with me.
There were parents who emailed me, thanking me for all I’ve done for their kids.
The special education teachers thanked me for accommodating their students.
I was fully accepted into the History department and my colleagues even used some of my ideas.
Some of my projects were a hit! Some lessons, my students really enjoyed! Once I got a hand of creating good graphic organizer / guided notes, the grades on my tests went up.
The small notes or thank you’s and small presents or smiles I’ve received throughout the semester.
I felt fulfilled. I loved teaching.
The funniest thing, I think, was I was so hesitant about teaching Utah Studies. I had only had one semester course on it at BYU and I never lived in Utah before college. I was to teach it, as well as U.S. History.
But, as it turns out, I love teaching Utah history! Yes, it is sometimes hard to separate it from LDS Church History and make sure my 95% Mormon student body understood that Mormons weren’t always the victim in Utah history was hard, but I loved it!. I could always come up with new and exciting activities to have my students learn. The weird thing is, it was hard to do the same for U.S. History, which I was very familiar with.
I’m excited for this semester. I am already a full Unit (about three weeks) ahead. I am repeating Utah Studies with new students (it is a semester long class), so it will be a bit easier. I already know what I am teaching for that subject so I can improve on it and focus more on cool and interactive ideas for U.S. History.
Wish me as luck this semester!