10 Reflections From a First Year Teacher

Guess who’s back, back again. Frickers back, tell a friend.*

*name that song.

Ah, first year teaching. What a hectic, emotional and joyful time. I’m so sorry for my three month hiatus, ends up first year teaching and grad school are kinda hard to juggle. BUT I’M BACK!

Here I am, back with my reflections as a first year teacher! I learned a whole lot, slept a whole lot, had a whole lot of coffee, and smiled a whole lot.

  1. Many students just need a confidence boost

    As a reading intervention teacher, I work with both tier 2 and tier 3 students on their reading skills. I tell so many people that I’m not teaching these children anything new, I’m just giving them an opportunity to boost their confidence in their reading skills. Most students did not need my services after one month of daily, 30 minute intervention, and the data shows it. Most students’ growth looked like a perfectly shaped aim line. Nothing like seeing a 5 year-old’s confidence in reading blossom. A little one-on- one time with students works wonders for their confidence.

 

  1. Teaching is much more easy when you have a relationship with the student(s)

Relationships aren’t a hard thing to build either. It’s as simple as asking about their weekend and listening, giving a handshake or a hug in the morning, and listening. Did I mention listening? Oh yeah, and listening. Don’t forget that one. I teach in a title one school where many of our students have a very hard home life. Sometimes all they need is someone to listen to what they have to say. Once you build that relationship of mutual respect, teaching becomes much more fluent and less bumpy. Take the time to build relationships, it’s worth it.

  1. What is up with boys and bathrooms?!?

I have had to bust so many boys playing around in the bathroom over the past 4 months. All ages represented. Just go in, do ya thing, and come back out. I am so confused on what the fascination is.

  1. When you make expectations high, students rise to meet them

When I was moved to be a 4th grade reading intervention teacher due to the looming SOL tests, my students certainly had a steep learning curve in order to get used to me. They learned quickly that I wasn’t going to reinforce “kind of right” answers, that I expected them to behave while in small group with me or they will get sent to their desk to “try again”, and that I expect them to be problem solvers. And boy, did they rise to meet the occasion. I had a student who had an exceptional day in a small group intervention and asked the teacher to write a note saying he did well so he could show me. I was later told that he said, “I want Ms. Fricker to know I did well. She’s tough. Not mean, just tough”.

  1. Kids say the darndest things

The hilarious things they say make me love my job just that much more.

  1. Flexibility is key

Seriously. As a teacher you are going to be asked to do all kinds of things. Within a couple of months we have changed lesson plan templates a couple of times, added in different intervention documentation sheets, and many teachers’ duties were changed due to SOL tests. When you decide to be upset about the changes, you are doing nothing except for hurting yourself and your attitude. Go with the flow and understand that changes are made to make your school better.

  1. I love watching kids try to speed walk after you ask them not to run.

    Never gets old to me. Simple as that.

 

  1. You seriously don’t need to reinvent the wheel

Cue image of first year teacher staying up until midnight most nights trying to create an adorable lesson (read: Pinterest worthy) for the next day. STOP. My professors in college always told me not to reinvent the wheel, and shocker, they were right. You can find the lesson and the materials online somewhere without having to exhaust yourself. My go-to website are the PALs recourses, Scholastic, and This Reading Mama.

  1. You’re going to mess up- just laugh and move on

You are going to have days where one of your lessons just goes AWFUL. I was so excited to teach a lesson on author’s purpose. I set up 10 stations of different materials (newspaper, poem, advertisement etc.) that groups of kids had to rotate between. At every station they had to write the author’s purpose and why. I’m not a “cutesy” lesson type of gal, so I was pretty proud of myself. I had it all set up and ready to go, but once the students got there, it was SO BAD. Like cringe-worthy embarrassing bad. Kids were rolling on the ground, kids were yelling, kids were fighting. Looking back, I slightly wish I had a video of the lesson so I could laugh at its ridiculousness. BUT, just like the point regarding flexibility, some days you just have to roll with the punches.

  1. Pick your battles

Some days, you’re going to struggle to drag yourself to your room just out of pure exhaustion. On those days, pick your battles wisely. Should I yell at Layla today for picking her nose? Nope. Pick away little warrior.

 

Overall, first year teaching is one of the most amazing, eye opening experiences ever. I have learned so much so far, and can’t wait to keep learning. Want more? I loved reading the ABC’s For First Year Teachers, here.

What did you learn while you were a first year teacher? Let me know!

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