Sitting at home on my oh-so-comfy bed, I realize that 6 weeks of my life have just flown by. There were tears all around the room as my collaborative group and I said goodbye to our faculty advisor, our students, and most importantly, each other on Friday. Our group of teachers has grown so close and interdependent over 5 weeks of teaching that there was rarely a lunch, curriculum session or bus ride where one of us was not sitting next to another collab member. Thinking of having my own classroom of eager little faces in a few weeks is super exciting, but knowing that I have to do it alone without the support of my 3 collab partners seems quite daunting.
No doubt, I owned the institute experience and feel very well prepared going into my first year of teaching. When I get overwhelmed, my boyfriend just reminds me that I am doing in 5 weeks what most teachers do in 4 years! My family is also really supportive and has more confidence in my ability to succeed than I do in myself sometimes.
Knowing that I won’t be with my summer school students this year breaks my heart because I know they have so much hard work still left to do. I hope they get teachers who see how bright and driven they can be, and they get pushed to read and write at the level expected of their high-income peers. There are innumerable things that I could have done better this summer, but after much reflection I’ve settled on two main areas to focus on this fall: organization and parent relationships. I’ve never been good at keeping track of paperwork and having efficient systems to manage tasks, but coordinating assignments, group work and tests truly strained me the past few weeks. I’m going to seek out people who’ve mastered organization in the classroom and enlist their help.
I also need to make reaching out to parents and community members a top priority. The students whose parents I contacted were more invested in my class, and tended to complete homework better. Parents and guardians can be the driving and inspiring factor to push a child from apathetic and compliant to purposeful and driven. I need to seek help to create a system to keep myself accountable to these parents.
I’m so anxious about this new year with second-graders, but more than anything I’m grateful for the chance to fundamentally change the life trajectory of my students. I hope I can deliver on the promise that I will be a relentless teacher, and if I forget this charge I know people in my life will help me get back on track when times get challenging. First year teaching… bring it on!