Hello and happy Saturday. I know, you get it already, I just finished my first year teaching at a school, and you’re probably a bit fed up with me talking about it, but one of my Instagram queens, who now is on YouTube, Christina Costa from teachlikeagirl, made this video with some very specific questions about her first year of teaching, and I thought it would be fun to share the answers with you. Let’s get started, shall we?
1. What was your worst moment in your first year of teaching?
If you had just “a moment,” then you’re lucky and I envy you, because I had to suffer through a whole week of hell. It all started when the dates for final tests were given to basically everybody but me, so I didn’t know for sure when my test with my older kids was going to take place. Parents started sending notes asking for the topics of the test because they needed them to study with their kids, so I sent them on a Friday after finding out the test was going to be the following Monday.
That Monday I got to school and was welcome by and avalanche of I don’t know how many notes saying that the topics I’d sent weren’t clear, that the parents had no idea how to study with their kids, and just a load of crap if you ask me, because it was obvious to me that a group of parents had gotten together to bombard me with these notes.
The test was obviously cancelled and moved to another date, and with the help of my boss, who’s literally my work mom, I sent an online communication explaining the topics and how the test was going to be. In class I went over every item I was going to evaluate and did a full review with my students, who didn’t seem lost at all. This, of course, while juggling my classes with pre-k and kindergarten.
Another avalanche came the following day, albeit smaller, and I was forced to design a worksheet for my students and their parents to develop. It was a study guide, which, granted, was super helpful and I started doing one every term, which I’d work on with my students to prepare for the test, but at that moment it was plain frustrating for me to be doing that, especially because it was for the parents and not my students.
The week ended and the kids did great, and I only got one note related to that mess. It was a thank-you note from a mom because she found the study guide very helpful.
2. What was your best moment in your first year?
There were a lot of great moments during my first year, especially with my Pre-K and Kindergarten students, but I think the best of all was Super Hero Day. For my final class with Pre-K, I planned a super hero day. My boys dressed up as super heroes and we sang and colored and ate candy. The details of that day are in a post I linked above, but I felt it was my best moment because I had these boys in front of me, who I’d met almost a year before and who’d grown up so much.
With me they learned their first words in English, and it was so heartwarming to see them actually talking, and understanding everything I told them. It was one of those moments when I felt that even the bad times had been worth it, all because of that group of twenty-two kids. It was a great ending to a great year .
3. What is your biggest regret from your first year?
I think my biggest regret was holding back and trying to do things the way the previous teacher did them. The teacher that came before me was great, and both parents and students loved her, and I guess I felt pressure to keep doing things the way she did them, even if that wasn’t how I worked. So instead of unleashing my creativity and doing things like I knew they would work for me, I spent about half the year trying to fit a mold that wasn’t my size, and sadly, I paid for the consequences.
4. What is something you wish you knew before you started teaching?
Okay, so you know how you dream of being a teacher and just managing your classes however you want them to? It doesn’t happen that way. I wish I knew that my job didn’t just involved me and my students, and in a way I did know it, having worked with parents in the past. But the thing is, and I talked about it a long time ago, parents nowadays are super involved, and so they are another factor we have to add to the whole “teaching” equation. I wish I’d known that before because I think that would’ve avoided some bad times.
5. What advice would you give to a first year teacher?
Dear first year teacher, get ready to fuck up. We all say “oh, it’s not going to be bad for me” and we end up convinced that, although the first year usually sucks for most teacher, it won’t for us. Sweetie, it will suck at times, and you will make mistakes, and it’s totally okay, trust me. When I got hired I was told by my school’s principal that he knew the first year was tough, and when the year was over he said it again and after that he told me hopefully my second year would be better, and that’s how I knew I still had my job. Don’t expect everything to be perfect because that will only stress you out. Enjoy your first year and learn from your mistakes. Oh, yeah, and hope that your second year will be better!
Now I tag you, my lovely readers, to pick one (or all) of the questions to answer in the comments.
Love, Miss Camila