Thursday, December 27, 2007

The First Week of Teaching

Year 1

I wanted to write this entry about my first day of teaching, but I was much too tired. Because of the construction projects, we started the year with a full week of school, as opposed to the customary Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of years past. When you’ve never done this before (excluding student teaching, which is a whole different idea), a day of teaching is exhausting, never mind a week. It was one of the most draining experiences of my life. I am writing this reflection, now, on a Saturday, to get my thoughts on paper before I lose them. I’d also like to be able to use this in my tenure reflective portfolio. However, I have to get this done quickly, because I still feel as if I have several hundred things to do just to be ready again by Monday. Right now, the whole process is overwhelming. There are lots of activities to track and prepare, and there feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I don’t see as of yet how I’m going to have time to do things this year. I’m going to be pretty busy putting a lot of effort into my job. However, I signed up for this with all of my teaching classes, so now I’m going to follow through on it and work as hard as I possibly can.

The first week of school, besides the exhaustion, seemed to go about as well as I could expect. I suffered the nerve-wracking experience of having the classroom of my first class changed AFTER the class had already started, so I had to stand in the hall with all of the students. I think every one of us felt a bit uncertain about that experience. I wanted so badly to be in control from the beginning, and already the situation felt out of my hands, as I couldn’t even direct them to the proper room. Not exactly a proper or auspicious beginning. We did get settled, however, and I managed to keep the students busy for most of the week.

I am, however, having trouble adjusting to the fifty-five minute periods. When I student taught, I only had forty minute periods, so this is much different. Fifty-five minutes just feels like an eternity. It also tells me that I have not done a very good job planning, perhaps because I don’t really know how to plan. I’ve been writing out activities and structures for each of my classes, but I had to do it each night, just to stay on task and focused. It’s been very hard work, and, to top it off, I’ve been getting to bed rather late as well. Basically, a tough start. I’m not really sure what I can do to improve at this point, because I don’t know how things will change, when they’ll change, or if they’ll change. I’m just going to keep pushing along and hope that makes a difference.

Written: 9/17/05

Year 2

The first week of year two was MUCH easier than the first week of year one. Some of my colleagues told me that I would feel much more competent as I began year two and that is most certainly the case. I just feel more comfortable. I haven’t consciously changed anything over the first year, except for just going through the whole process once. That seems to have made all of the difference. I’m having several students for the second time, so there is familiarity there (for better or for worse). I have some lessons that I’ve created (although not all are good), and I can use them as a template for what I do this year. I feel more organized. I know my way around the school. I know where to find books and other resources. I have a system of distribution of student materials.

I just reread my entry from last year. Best of all, in the area of improvement, I don’t feel nearly as exhausted. I’m tired, yes, because my body did not go through the difficult process of teaching anything at all during the course of the summer. However, I am not nearly as exhausted as I was last year. I’ve been getting to bed at a reasonable hour, and just generally taking care of myself. That has certainly helped me to improve my energy level. This year I also made out two weeks of lesson plans for each class during the end of the summer. That meant that I no longer had to construct plans for each class the night before during the first week. There really aren’t any similarities between this year and the last. I’m sure more similarities will appear as the year drags on and I enter into unfamiliar territory, but, for right now, I feel as if I am in a very good position and I’m looking forward to whatever challenges this year may present to me.

Written: 9/9/06

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