Remember Allisence? She wrote for Reality 101 in 2011–12. Allisence was just starting a second career and in her first year of teaching last time she blogged. Reality 101 is circling back with her for a Reality Check to get her perspective and sage advice for new teachers.
Last year, I was a first-year teacher trying to figure out how to navigate the system and balance student schedules that made my room feel like a three-ring circus. I was perplexed by how to teach such a wide range of students, but even though I have a year of experience under my belt, everything seems that much more complicated!
This year, everything about my classroom is different. Rather than having a span of six grade levels, I only have four, but rather than only having seven students I have 12. There are only four things that have stayed the same: two students, the fact that every day is a new adventure and the reality that I still have no balance in my life.Consequently, it makes sense that I still consider myself a new teacher and one that’s always learning. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far this school year:
Restraining is no
I have many students with severe behavior concerns that have required my aides and me to become fully certified in non-violent crisis intervention (restraint training). There have been many instances with students where we’ve had to physically restrain them because they were an imminent danger to themselves or others. This process is no fun for anyone.
I have a new student with a severe hearing impairment. While he is verbal and communicates with spoken words, it’s been a blessing to teach him the alphabet paired with sign language. Since he is a very kinesthetic learner, these hand motions have improved his learning and retention abilities. Besides, sign language hasn’t just helped him, it has helped all my students!
Nobody cares about
Last year, I would get stressed about observations and would worry about my scores. I’ve since then realized that while I do still care about these observations, they don’t really matter that much. If I’m teaching what and how I’m supposed to be teaching on a daily basis, even unannounced observations are no big deal.
You can’t be
friends with everyone.
Last year in hopes of creating collaborative relationships, I tried to be extremely accommodating. While I still try to be as accommodating as I can be, I now understand that I can’t be friends with everyone. Not everyone is going to have the same beliefs as I do about my students and while I don’t want to burn any bridges, there will always be people I work better with than others.
Wiggle seats work.
I took on a lot of kindergarteners this year who are just about the wiggliest kids on the planet. After trying every free strategy I could think of to get them to sit still, I finally went online and bought 10 wiggle seats and plopped them down on the carpet. After the initial learning curve, even my wiggliest students are now able to sit for a good 10 minutes on the carpet.
They don’t always
Growing up it never occurred to my friends and me to call our teacher names no matter how mad we were. Kids these days, however, are exposed to a whole lot more and know quite a few more colorful words than my friends and I did. This year I’ve been called just about every inappropriate word, but I try to remember that they don’t mean it—they are upset and it’s not a personal attack.
But, when my students decide to tell me how much they love me, I generally decide to take it like they mean it! Besides, it’s those words that keep me coming back for a new adventure each and every day.