I have completed my internship. I will have my official license hopefully within a month. I have taught a full year. I have had my own classroom, with my own students, and my own rules and procedures. It has been quite the experience. I surely have learned a lot. Check out some of my first-year adventures here.
There were times I hated it. Times that I went home crying because of how students behaved for me, crying because of how students wouldn’t try. There were nights I’d be in my classroom until 8 making lesson plans and/or grading. There were times I was so sick I could barely talk. There were times my trailer got so hot, stuffy, and muggy, almost unbearable for both me and my students. I got so flustered, frustrated, disturbed, upset. However, I wouldn’t give it up for the world.
I still love teaching. I know I’m made for it. I love seeing the creativity of my students, especially in their writing. I love seeing the light bulb go off above their head. I love seeing them get excited about an activity we do. I love hearing, “This is easy! I understand this!” I love having students wave to me and say hi in the halls. The notes and pictures they give me always make my day. Seeing the majority of students get good grades on an assignment lifts my spirit.
- There are a lot of things they don’t teach you in college: how to write on a chalkboard/whiteboard without slanting upwards, how to use a copy machine, how to keep track of textbooks, how to use document cameras/projector screens.
- There are a lot of things the school doesn’t teach you as an intern that you have to figure out on your own: traditions, policies, procedures, assembly rules, using SIS (grading system), how parent-teacher conferences work.
- It’s okay to stop grading for a day.
- While grading, it’s ok to quickly skim for answers rather than actually read them.
- Pictures or a note will always make my day, even if it is just a simple bird, or a stick figure.
- Documentaries and movies can really help you teach–just make sure they have notes to solidify it in their brains.
- Your first year of middle/junior high you care about school…your second year, you care about nothing but gossip.
- Check for students who stare at their hands, purse, or inside their binder–there is a phone there.
- Always, always ask for teacher discounts!
- Smile, and laugh at yourself.
- Talk about yourself and your family life.
- Don’t be afraid to steal, beg, and borrow test ideas, projects ideas, and lesson plans.
- When in doubt (or a hurry or behind) peer teaching and jigsaw learning activities work perfectly fine.
- To fill in extra time, a higher-order thinking writing prompt (opinion based) always helps–the students are busy writing, but they are also thinking and learning.
- Their lack of planning doesn’t constitute an emergency on your part–do all you can, then don’t do anymore, the students need to learn responsibility.
- Eat in the teacher’s lounge–make friends!
- Most parents are on your side, don’t be afraid of them.
- Document everything! If a child misbehaves, document it and be specific and factual!
- It’s ok to ruin your seating chart the very next day.
- Don’t sit kids next to bulletin boards–they will always take out the pins and play with them.
- If you have to take a phone or iPod, put it in your pocket, or in a drawer…don’t leave it on your desk because the students will take it back.
- Be lenient, but be firm at the same time–show students you care for them.
- Go to dances, sporting games, and other activities.
- Get to know your students.
- Smile, don’t raise your voice. Smile and be patient.
- Be confident, even if you are bursting to tears. It’ll all work out.
- Pray for your students.
- Make sure there is time after school for you to do what you want.
- Network! Network! Network!
I know a lot of you are teachers. Some in their first three years of teaching, other have quite a few under their belts. What was one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned during your first year?