During holiday break this week, I met with a friend from college for a cup of coffee. As we reminisced about our days on campus, it dawned on me that the new year was fast approaching and that I had not yet reflected on 2011 and my experiences as a new teacher.
One of my biggest regrets this year was not having enough time (or energy) to stop, simply reflect on my work, and savor the fact that I am actually teaching. After all, how many times did I daydream about having my own classroom one day when I was an apprentice? Since the first day of school though, I had been on non-stop survival mode. I feel disappointed with myself that I had not been able to keep up journaling. It is like missing your child’s first steps–these are the moments you want to record and remember!
Truthfully, most of my memories of the past six months are a blur. I remember mostly feelings: cold anxiety, knotted stress, fluctuating despair, small pockets of joy, and hot tears of frustration. Oh yes, there were definitely a lot of tears this year. There were also a lot of lessons.
Some of the lessons I learned the hard way…
- No matter how prepared or organized you think you are, it is never enough.
- First impressions count. After that, it’s too late.
- It’s hard to stay consistent.
- Students eat up supplies.
- Do not take everything personally.
- Too many frozen dinners or cans of soup for lunch is unhealthy.
- Yelling all the time does not work.
- Leave work at work.
- Heels are impractical.
- Make friends with a massage therapist.
- Daily dollar-store rewards leave huge dents in the wallet.
- DO NOT ENGAGE.
Some of the things I have done this year and would like to continue next year…
- Positive phone calls and notes home
- Star student raffles for good behavior and work
- Assign lab assistants to help distribute supplies and clean up
- Talk with students briefly during breakfast and advisory
- Whiteboard wall of vocabulary pictures in English and Spanish
- Hint wall with posted routines and classroom reminders
- Home-base bulletin board with folders for homework agenda sheets, missed work, and challenge puzzles for early finishers
- Connect with more local stores and educational outreach programs for donations and freebies to stock the lab
- Connect with a local science mentor,
- Wake up earlier so I can meditate before leaving for work
- Give myself enough time in the morning to prepare for the day
- Pre-write my agenda on the board and set up my classroom materials for the next day before leaving work
- Get a full night’s rest
Some of the things I need to work on next year…
- Keep practicing classroom behavior management techniques
- Find more ways to explicitly teach academic vocabulary
- Learn how to really differentiate reading materials
- Rotate teaching styles so as not to get stuck in the packet rut
- Incorporate more demos and labs to bring the fun back
- Make more time to go to the gym to de-stress
- Blog more
- Tweet more
- Make more effort to acknowledge the wonderful people and blessings in my life
Here’s to 2011 with all its lessons, which taught me that I was stronger than I thought I was… and here’s to 2012 with hopes that I continue to learn and grow and never lose sight of what matters most! Happy New Year, friends!