Well, it’s just about done. Primary students finished last Friday, while secondary students are writing final exams. This year-end winding down offers time to reflect on this past year.
As most of you know, this was my first year of teaching. It had its many challenges, but right there along with these were many successes.
It took a while four months for me to finally feel like I was getting somewhere with one of my primary classes. Some of them hated, hated, hated English. They would have nothing to do with it. Every time I spent time trying to plan a new, fun activity, all I got were sighs and eyes rolling.
Around the half-way point in the year, something just clicked. I haven’t put my finger on it yet, but suddenly they seemed more willing to try new things and get to work. I couldn’t give them enough work; they literally begged for more. They ended the year with a read-aloud of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which they ate up, and I ended the year with a feeling of having succeeded, if nothing else, at getting this keen group of kids motivated in English class.
One of my secondary classes spent a very busy year socializing, getting involved in sports, and socializing some more. Of course, this is what life’s all about at fourteen. When overdue assignments weren’t coming in, I felt like a witch having to put my foot down and threaten to dock some marks. It’s all part of my learning curve too, I’m well aware. Trying to get them to write even a little was like pulling teeth.
At the very end of the year, however, they completely blew me away. They wrote beautiful narratives and essays linked to a class trip, and their stories brought tears to my eyes. The tears had nothing to do with the writing itself, but with the realization of how much they learned about real life on this trip.
I was told by an experienced teacher:
A seasoned teacher gave me advice in my first year of teaching. She said that in your first year you tend to concentrate on yourself. That’s ok. Do what you need to do to survive.
The second year you concentrate on curriculum. That’s ok. Do what you need to do to learn where you’re expected to take your students.
By the third year you can then concentrate on the students. Your students become more real to you; then you can invest in their lives and try to meet needs.
Here’s to surviving my first year!