Laurah from The ESOL Odyssey is hosting a First Year Flashback linky. The idea is to reflect back to your very first year of teaching! It really makes me feel old to have to go back nine years...
What age group and subject were you teaching?
I was teaching a first grade self-contained class in a high poverty inner-city school in Connecticut with many English Language Leaners. However, I only had 16 kids! Times sure have changed as far as that goes.
What was your first classroom like?
My first classroom seemed nice to me at the time...I mean it was a good size and all mine! However, it was very old. There was tile flooring, but I had a student carpet for a meeting area. There were windows all along one side of the room and there were hooks for student things under a shelf along the opposite wall. I believe I just had a chalkboard and an easel. No whiteboard or Promethean board! Just two old Mac computers in the corner...we barely used email as a school, one wasn't even a designated teacher computer. I had a teacher desk, a couple tables for centers, and my students had individual desks. I also had some old metal bookcases which were ugly but did their job. There were some actual bulletin boards, which was nice, lately all I've had is blank walls.
Were you given supplies and materials?
The school had just adopted Harcourt Trophies the year that I started, so there were tons of materials to go with that program. I believe we were using Everyday Math, but that it had been around for a while. I know there were workbooks, but not sure if we had all the manipulatives. We did have a reading room with guided reading books. Some supplies were given to us, such as a limited number of pencils, pens, and crayons...but I'm pretty sure I bought plenty myself as well. We did not have to buy paper for the copier at that time, it was just always full.
What was the hardest part of your first year of teaching?
Teaching reading. I had no idea how to teach reading. I know have a Master's degree in curriculum with a focus on literacy and it probably all began here. I tried my best and did what people told me and am thankful that I was surrounded by people who were willing to help and that we received lots of professional development. Hopefully I didn't scar my first group of students too badly! I had student taught in third grade and only observed in a first grade classroom before I got the job...no one in college ever taught me HOW to teach students to read. But, I will say first grade is the place to be if you want to learn. Had I gotten a job teaching an upper grade, I probably still wouldn't know.
What was the best part of your first year of teaching?
The people! Everyone was always so nice and helpful and willing to collaborate and work together. There were four of us on my team that year, two of us brand new teachers, and we worked really well together. I really don't find this to be the case anymore. Everyone always seems to be fighting for themselves or just not on the same page which results in every teacher having to do the entire workload rather than splitting it up.
What do you know now that you wish you had known that first year?
Along with Laurah, there is only so much you can do and all you can do is your best. Also, some might disagree, everything needs to be tied to a standard. I remember all kinds of arts and crafts types of things occurring at centers but looking back, although fun, they probably weren't exactly academically focused.