Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Stroll Down Memory Lane......

    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.


  1. Jess, it was only yesterday (it feels like...) I was a first year teacher. I remember my excitement when Butch helped me to my room and I saw it for the first time. It was a MESS! Posters were hanging off the walls with blue, yellow and purple painters tape hanging off them. It was a tiring year... I'd get to school when it was dark and leave when it was dark... Even though we didn't need to be there until 8:45.. I'd spend every available moment planning, trying to help someone, or cleaning/organizing my room. I loved my first year.i learned a lot, and I was very lucky to have those in my pod so understanding.

    Like you, I was apart of my team, minus one other 2nd grade teacher. It was rough.. I felt out of the loop a lot and felt like I missed out on "bonding"... But I made up for it by eating together at lunch...where you and I get the opportunity to talk :)

  2. It posted.. Not previewed! Shucks..

    Anyways, I just wanted to say, I wouldn't change any
    thing I did that first year. I learned so much about myself. About the students and the school. It was a great year for me.. Stressful, but wonderful!

    - Kelsey


I love hearing from you!!!!Thanks for telling your tale....

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