Today was the first day of my first contracted teaching job. I have had first days before, but this one was different; I no longer had the reassurance of any co-teachers or the carefree mindset of a long-term sub! It was solely up to me to start the year!
Of course I panicked to some small extent (“What if the copier doesn’t work? What if I forget to print a class roster before school?), but those thoughts were fleeting and minor. This is the job for which I was made.
Let me paint you a picture of my situation with as much clarity I can give while maintaining security. It is a large high school of about 2100 students (and only grades 10-12!). I am one of about 20 English teachers, and of those teachers, (in addition to one section of 10th English) I am entrusted with two brand new classes this year: critical reading and PSAT/ACT prep.
I was hired a week and a half before school, the day before new teacher orientation. Please consider the logistical constraints of setting up one’s first classroom, the long hours of teacher in-service, and the flurry of paperwork necessary to complete official employment (I actually don’t have a contract yet, but it’s coming!).
My room was a shared room last year, meaning it lacked a filing cabinet, tables, computer, projector and screen, and functional teacher chair when I arrived. My desk had evidently been traded by another teacher due to the “To 207” label on its surface. It is a glorious metallic pink and green monstrosity, built to withstand nuclear holocaust. Somehow, I managed to befriend the support staff and obtain all the furniture items in a timely manner, so what I did have completed for my room encouraged me in no small measure to be prepared for the first day.
What struck me most about this first day was the disparity between envisioning students and the reality of their presence. Don’t misunderstand me, I already love my students, but I do not think I was fully prepared to be a minority in every one of my classes, or to see more than a few pregnant teenagers going about their days.
I am used to boisterous classes that require a firm hand and creative redirection. Due to the nature of my critical reading classes consisting of students who needed more work with reading and a high ELL population, the majority of my students were very quiet, calling for more motivation (and a few Starburst candies) to break the ice. Again, it’s okay because I’m actually ESL certified also, but it’s not what I was expecting.
I was also not expecting to have my computer not show up until today, but that is another story. Actually, not having a projector, ELMO, or computer helped me to see how much I’ve already incorporated those classroom technologies into my teaching. I’m really hoping we can get them up and running soon because I do not know how I can teach ESL students effectively without better visuals.
All in all, I felt good about what we accomplished today. It was so refreshing to finally be a “real” teacher and to be a part of a school community full of students who need compassion, enthusiasm, and empowerment. I am so excited for this year!
Tell me about your first days of school this year. How did it go? Did you do any activities you really loved?
P.S. It was also pretty cool getting a teacher account for Aesop instead of a substitute account!