So I was feeling a little nostalgic this morning, chatting with an old teaching buddy on facebook (hi Lisa!). In addition, last night I was reading some requests on TpT from first year teachers. Oh how I feel for them. If I knew then, what I know now. But I guess what doesn't kill you makes you stronger--And my first year as a teacher was a learning experience to say the least.
My first teaching job was in a New York City school in the borough of Queens. A friend (hi Lorraine!) and I drove around Queens, from school to school walking in and handing them our resumes. I had a 3 minute interview. Later that evening they called me and said you have the job, school starts in 2 days. At the time I was single and still living at home, so my Mom (thank the Lord for her) went with me to the closest teaching store, helped me pick out borders and cute things and the next 2 days helped me set up my classroom.
Having never had my own classroom I didn't really know what to expect, but it was not a desk full of junk, I can tell you that. The previous teacher who had my room left everything for me to clean. It was pretty gross. I was expecting someone to come in and say Hi, I'm a first grade teacher too, do you need anything? But that didn't happen either. I was on the second floor and every other 1st grade teacher, with the exception of the First Grade ESOL teacher was on the first floor. So, I was pretty much on my own when it came to curriculum.
My A.P. gave me all my basals and a pat on the back. I had one lady who mentored me, and came in once in a while with advice and the like. She actually gave me the best advice for a first year teacher: Rules and Routines, Rules and Routines, Rules and Routines. But for the most part I was on my own. We didn't have team meetings or planning meetings or anything like that.
Thank goodness a friend of my mom's, was a first grade teacher in the district where I grew up. (Hi Ellen!) She gave me her "Do Now" packets for the year. I went to Kinko's and paid out of my own pocket to run them. Did I mention I had 32 kiddos to start--and they were homogeneously grouped? I had the "at-risk" "level 1" kids, right above the ESOL students. Yes, it was quite the learning experience.
When I look back at that class from 15 years ago, and I can remember quite a few of those spunky kids, I don't know how I did it. I would sit on my couch every weekend doing plans. I woke up at 5 and left my house at 6:00, because it took me an hour and a half to get to work with traffic. It was crazy, but looking back I wouldn't change it. It made me a better teacher, because I had no choice but to learn from my mistakes. It made me a better teacher, because I had to study and cram to do my lesson plans without fail every weekend. It wasn't ideal, but by the end of that school year, I had transformed much like my students had.
Do You remember your first year? I would love to hear about it.
Please leave me a comment below with your best memory from your first year as a teacher.