When I look back at the preparation given to me through this alternative certification program, I feel very lucky. I have felt throughout that this program has done a great job preparing me for my first year of teaching.
I feel that the information I was given about at promise kids was very beneficial to my teaching. Even though I previously worked with this population, my studies in the Alternative Certification Program gave me a new understanding. I often thought about education as being a life or death situation for my kids (as pointed out by Martin Haberman).
As I look back on this year I know that I feel successful and happy about teaching partly because of my school and my district. I think in order for a program like this to work the teacher needs a lot of support. I got this from my superintendent my principal, my building mentor and my district mentor.
After this year I come away with the attitude that teaching is one of the hardest jobs there is.
As I reflect back beyond the first year of my teaching experience, I think of the opportunity that I was offered with the first Alternative Certification Program. I am amazed at the journey I was fortunate enough to be a part of.
The selection process was overwhelming. Little did I know that it was only a taste of what would be expected of those of us who were fortunate enough to be selected.
As students, we many times lost sight of the dedication that our instructors had to us and to the program. They were not only asking us to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort levels; they were also pushing themselves that extra mile for our benefit.
I found that after being involved in this program my first year in the classroom was filled with self-evaluation and reflection. I discovered that through all the formal reflections I had been required to write for my classes that it had become a habit for me. … I realized I had not been encouraging my students to think and to read to what they had been learning I will work very hard to not only have a reflective teacher in the classroom, but also a room filled, with reflective students.
Overall this class is one made in heaven. The children help each other. They truly care about each other’s learning. I heard one of the children say to the new kid, “Do you want to learn this?” She was very concerned that he was not like the other children in the class that she had become accustomed to.
I wish that I could have this class again...I look forward to their next teacher telling me what he or she thinks of them. I am sure that person will be impressed. Watch out world, here they come!
One of my most exciting experiences this year was when my students gave me a surprise pizza party. …If you could have seen the look on my face when I walked into the room. They almost made me cry, but I held on.
This year has been hectic...Other jobs I am sure require some work time at home, but teaching brings that to new heights. If it’s not the weekend with lesson plans, it’s the weeknights with homework assignments.
As the 2000-01 school year approached I held no illusion that it would be an idyllic year in which I would daily interact with a multitude of students grateful not only for my presence and efforts but also eager to absorb as much knowledge as the limitations of a 180 day school year would impose....Nonetheless, despite having prepared myself for what I expected would be an uphill baffle, I found that, in truth, I was unprepared for what I actually learned as the year unfolded. If one were a purist who yearned to teach in a utopian environment, the shortcomings of what I experienced would provide enough fodder to write a Micheneresque epic.
I wasn’t sure what to expect this first year but I had no idea how difficult, draining but yet fulfilling the experience would be. There were some days I left the building with a smile, looking forward to the next day. On the other hand, there were some mornings that I really wanted to walk out and not return.
While I am eagerly anticipating the summer hiatus, I’m not afraid of the upcoming year...I know the climb is still uphill but I intend to hang in there. I still think teaching is what I am meant to do. Now I just have to perfect my craft.
August through September and October were probably the roughest months I have ever experienced. Almost EVERYTHING was my first time.
In a zone. That’s the phrase I would use to describe my first year of teaching. Sometimes it was great and sometimes it was downright awful. Most of the time it was okay - with variations of degrees of okay.
When I reflect on my first year of teaching, I consider myself one of the luckiest first year teachers in the south suburbs. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of days that I wanted to throw my hands up and not return to the classroom. But because of my support system I was able to make it this far....I always felt like I had someone to go to if I had any trouble. I feel that this was the most important component of my whole experience.
I have learned a lot this year about teaching. My biggest lesson though is compassion. I have had many situations in this past year in which I have had to show compassion towards my students.
I love my students and grew a parental attachment to each one of them. I try to put my image on each of their faces and tried to do all I could to meet their five basic needs (reference to Glasser). It’s already the end of the school year and I know that their cups are only half full, but I hope that through their encounter with me, they were only made stronger.
The thing that I am most proud of is classroom management... .Prior to the beginning of this school year, I spent countless hours reading The First Days of School by Harry Wong. All the reading and preparation really paid off.…The difference between a well taught lesson and a well prepared lesson was classroom management.
When I chose not to jump aboard the principal bashing bandwagon, I became isolated and criticized. When I spoke to the defense that all our children aren’t “dumb,” I was perceived as being arrogant.
I truly enjoyed my first year and look forward to teaching next year.
The largest issue for me was classroom management. Every success was during a time of good management. Every failure was when appropriate management was non-existent.
While the other kids were drawing pictures of “-er” and “-est” endings, one of my first grade boys came up to me with Kipling’s The Elephant Child. He read almost all of that book by himself. It took 35 minutes and I loved every second of it. He did too I think.
This has no doubt been the most difficult year of my life....In my mind the sad irony comes when I realize that the environment of which I have been a part during these past nine months is the environment that is “normal” for my 20 students. The community is host to daily shootings, poverty, and in some cases, hopelessness of ever breaking the cycle. The children are starved for attention and the need to be heard and recognized as having worth, and filled with an insatiable need to prove one’s toughness....However, as bleak as is the picture that I have just painted, I am filled with an overwhelming feeling of hope. The kind that causes the hair on my arms to stand on end and send shivers down my spine; that causes tears to well up in my eyes and a lump to form in my throat. Good things are happening in our district, and Rome wasn’t built in a day.
While eons from Nirvana, I am hopeful that we can reach the high level of expectations that I still have for my students by the time we arrive at the end of our third year together. For while it has been the most challenging year of my life, making the least amount of money that I have ever made, it has in its own way, been the most rewarding experience of my professional life.
My observation is that children who grown up in unstable home environments and in poverty routinely operate on a defensive survival level. They assume someone is always out to hurt them, treat them unfairly, or deprive them of the little they have. Unfortunately, it is true that more often than not, this is their experience. Making them believe that their school is a safe place, and that the adults make every effort to deal with them fairly is a constant challenge.
When we have a tough day, I find notes of apology from individuals or sometimes a group letter. They are learning to take responsibility.…I have told them that it is up to them to determine the quality of their life, and showing kindness and responsibility will make their lives and those around them so much better. I know most of them are hearing the message, but I have a few students who blockade themselves. They’re scared and hurt, and relapses occur. These are the difficult ones that we just have to keep frying to reach.
Just reflecting on the past school year has revealed to me how much I have learned and grown personally and professionally. The educational field is certainly a different culture in and of itself. I am glad that my business background has afforded me a good work ethic and professional skills that have been easily transferable to the classroom.
I have observed that many teachers spend much time complaining about how bad the situation of the students’ inability to read or understand without really trying to be innovative in solving the problem.
The students have been absolutely an inspiration to me....Each child has touched me in some way. I still can say without any reservation “I love my job” because I do and the students are a big part of that.
I plan to get our students out next year (field trips) to see the world and the fun things that can be learned. A monumental task (more like a calling), but I am convinced and ready to take on the challenge.
The year has been filled with many challenges., successes ineffective procedures, including disappointments, learning experiences and much more. To be honest, I really struggled as a first year teacher inside and outside the classroom.
I know Harry Wong, Karen Peterson, and John Doe and every other experienced teacher says set the rules the first day. Well I did get that far....However, I forgot to back it up I obviously now have a better understanding of the need for consistent and very structured discipline Some of my kids show very little respect towards me, and I feel I let it build up to this point throughout the year. However, now at the end of the year, I am a different teacher. I have heard some of my kids now say, “She’s strict.” Little do they know that such comments are compliments to a struggling classroom manager like myself.
I have learned how to think on my feet. If I was teaching something to my students and they were just not getting it, I had to change gears and go a different route. You always had to have a backup plan to use.
What I am proud of is that I handled all of this and I made it through the year and I loved every minute of it. I feel I made a difference in my students’ education this year....It just excited me to know they were excited about learning.
What I want to share with others is keep going it gets easier. The rewards are great. You are learning something new every day....if you see one pair of eyes get that spark because they learned from you it makes it all worthwhile and you want to go back day after day to do it again.
All in all it has been a great first year of teaching. It is certainly one I will remember and look back on. It has been a year of learning, trial and error and great satisfaction. I learned how to be very diplomatic with parents and not afraid to ask for help from other teachers and my mentor. I am already looking forward to next year.
This has been a year of many emotions. There were times when I felt jubilant and times when I felt overwhelmed. But throughout the year, I have felt the joy of fulfilling a dream that started over 20 years ago. I have wanted to be a teacher and touch the lives of children as long as I remember.
The thing that I am most proud of is he fact that I could build special relationships with some of the most difficult students in my class. It was a challenge to build up the trust between some of the students and myself....I found that some of my favorite memories of the year include the students who I had once thought were the most frustrating.
The favorite part of my day is when the students come in in the morning. I am assigned to the front door and get to be the official greeter. I get to welcome each student with a smile and “good morning.” At the beginning of the year, the students looked at me with a blank stare and walked past. As the year progressed, I think they looked forward to the start of their day. I find that now, they try to beat me at saying “good morning.” Seeing the smiles on the students’ faces and welcoming them each morning is a wonderful way to start each day.
I feel that the fulfilling moments have outweighed the overwhelming moments this year. I look forward to next year. I hope to continue to grow and become more effective with the students.
It is hard to explain what I feel when I say I am a teacher. It is a dream come true.
I have been on an emotional roller coaster. I’ve tried to leave school at school, but I can’t. I haven’t figured out how to balance myself yet. I know that I need to, because my students are stressed enough with their every day lives. They don’t need to have a stressed out teacher to deal with too.
Whatever the problems I have faced, I knew that there were and are people to help me through them. My district and building mentors have been great. For all the problems, there have been twice as many rewards. Most of the problems this year have been canceled out by “teacher moments.”
I have spent this past school year in an atmosphere that is foreign to me. After being in a corporate surrounding for ten years, I thought that this would be a piece of cake. It wasn’t. Overall, I’ve enjoyed teaching, and look forward to returning next year. I’m glad that I made the decision to switch careers. As I look over the year. I feel like I have made a difference in my students’ lives.