My first full week as a first year teacher has been quite the adventure. I’ve already experienced a roller coaster of emotions. I have some of the most amazing students, but some of those amazing students are quite challenging. I’ve managed to keep a smile on my face and passion in my voice as we covered basic skills for constructing and presenting a formal speech. For some classes, this was an easy task. For one class in particular, we spent 55 minutes on writing a thesis statement (one sentence) and it still didn’t make a lot of sense to them. All in all, I can already tell this is going to be a great (but exhausting) year. Here are some highlights from my first week:
Some of my students have been very open about how much they like me, which is a great feeling. As I was pacing the room helping individuals with questions on attention getters and final statements, one student randomly said to me, “Mrs. Finney, you’re the nicest teacher.” I wasn’t quite registering what he said (since he blurted it out while I was helping another student), so I responded with “Why, what’s up?” No, my response didn’t make a bit of sense, but he told me he just appreciated how patient I was and how understanding I was. I had already had a conversation or two with this student in the hall, and had moved the seating chart around in that class so that he would no longer be seated next to a distracting student that was holding him back. It felt good to be reassured that the students recognized the leaps and bounds I had made to ensure they felt comfortable in the classroom.
Other students showed me they were not a fan of me in more discreet ways. Yes, I did see some signs that at least one student was not too thrilled to be in my class. For the first three days of the week, I ended up finding a small note that said “suck my d**k” on my desk by the end of the day. I’m almost certain it came from my fifth hour class, and I could probably narrow down my suspicions to a few particularly difficult students behaviorally, but I decided to let it go. After a few days of it going unaddressed, the student must have gotten tired of wasting his/her effort if it wasn’t to be rewarded with the gratification of me making a big deal of it to the class.
We had SO many technology issues! Please tell me it won’t be like this all year long! We spent two days in the lab/with laptops to create a PowerPoint for our speeches, and I literally experienced just about every tech problem possible. I’ve already made some connections with the librarian and tech people! They most likely think I’m crazy and/or incompetent, but that’s reasonable.
I met some parents and have had great experiences with them so far. We had an Open House on Tuesday, and it was a great way for me to connect with some of the parents. Of course, I didn’t meet the parents of several kids that I would have loved to have made connections with, but I wasn’t expecting to. I already know that some of my students come from very difficult home lives. I was able to make connections with them through my “About Me Speech.” The speech requires that the students choose four events from their past that have shaped who they are today. They could choose events that made them thankful or proud or events that filled them with regret or pain, so long as they emphasized the impact that event had on their life or the lesson they learned from the experience. I shared an event about my difficult relationship with my father that really hit home with some of my students. It was great to show them that I am a human with a past too, and that I worked hard to get to where I am today. I loved sharing about my past, my experiences abroad, and my plans for the future. I can’t wait to hear my freshmen’s speeches next week. My sophomores presented this week, and I was super impressed with the results.
It’s been quite a week already! I’ve had a few migraines, and I had to buy some icy hot for my lower back already, but I’m feeling pretty good overall! I can’t wait to learn more about my students, make some positive connections with parents, and continue working (slowly but surely) to develop some skills that my students can use for the rest of their lives.
I’d love to hear from my fellow educators about your first weeks! Also, tips for a first year teacher are always always always appreciated!
Welcome to Learn-Grow-Teach-Go! I’m Rachel. Join me as I explore what it means to be a life-long learner and begin to live out a more full, balanced, and simplistic lifestyle. I am currently a high school English teacher, and I enjoy traveling the world and adventuring in my spare time. Whether you’re looking for advice on living minimally and simplistically, teaching ideas and lessons, or travel tips and trips, you’ve found the right place. Glad to have you here!