Saturday, October 12, 2013

Teacher's Edition

First Day/Week of School (Teacher's Edition)

          I have to start at the beginning. Well, not the beginning of time but the beginning of my journey into the real world of education. Just imagine... graduating early with higher honors and then getting hired right away as a long-term substitute teacher. It was a fantastic feeling! Then summer comes along and I finally get to apply for teaching jobs. The only problem was, no one was hiring. I sent at least 50 applications to any elementary school who was asking for teachers. And what do I get in return... no response or worse the generic email saying you have not been considered for an interview at this time. Summer was tough but I didn't give up. It was getting closer to August and I kept applying. I figured someone, sooner or later, would be in need of a teacher. Then I finally received one phone call for an interview. I nearly jumped out of my skin! But to top it off, my best friend (also new to the teaching field) got the same interview. However, I wanted this job more than anything and was willing to prove I had what it takes. A day goes by and no phone call but I had to relax.Then I hear my phone ring, I got a call back saying we want YOU and this is what you need to do to get ready for the school year.  She was so enthusiastic to have me as part of the team, I barely got a word in. I couldn't be more thrilled to be offered the chance to show my school what I can do. Of course I went "a little" crazy and came in to set up my classroom as soon as I possibly could. It took at least a full week, with some help from a few friends and family. But I was ready, even though my room didn't feel complete.

The pre-school week (for us teachers that's a term for the week before school starts) flew right on by. It was full of meetings, conferences, trainings, room set-up, and meeting the staff. Now the nerves and excitement begins. The time is here and I am filled with complete and utter bliss. It is my FIRST day of school, well as a teacher in my own classroom. Yes, I have worked with students in other classrooms, completed two wonderful internships, and was a long-term substitute teacher... but I have never had A CLASSROOM OF MY VERY OWN. I was so ready for this moment that my heart was going to explode out of my chest. I couldn't believe this day had finally come. My moment to shine and create lasting memories with my students had finally arrived!

My team (which including me, consisted of 4 people) made me feel welcome and encouraged me to ask questions if I needed. When I got to school, I made sure I was there early so I could get myself ready for the day. I took a deep breath, turned the key to my door, and started up my computer. Then I made sure I didn't have any faculty meetings or important emails. So far I was in the clear. Then I pulled up my PowerPoint for the first week of school. I was ready. But then it hit me, I am going to meet MY students. When the bell rang students and parents were coming into the room, taking out school supplies, and hugging each other. They looked nervous but I was surprisingly calm. When I looked at my attendance sheet I saw there were more people in my classroom than on my list. So I called out the names and saw who I didn't call. I had one student from another grade level mistakenly in my classroom and two new students. At the end of the day I had 18 students altogether.

I went through telling the students to be excited because this was going to be a great year. I gave them all a newsletter "Meet the Teacher" so they could learn a little about me and let them complete a creative writing piece about their summer. Throughout the day I referenced the PowerPoint so the students could learn the rules and routines of the classroom. And they picked up on things very quickly. Even faster than I'd expected! I started to think this class was too good to be true, but then I remembered it was only the first day of school. Then more days went by and we got to know each other. I was able to see my over-achievers (students like myself) and those who were my low babies. The week went by and I had a wonderful group of 4th graders. I'm not just saying that. My kiddos were learning the rules, respecting each other, and listening to me. My principal even stopped by to see how things were going. The students had smiles on their faces and were working nicely together. I thought this is how teaching should be and I couldn't have had a better first week!

All in all, I would have to say my first day was perfect. I even got to read them First Day Jitters and show them a mysterious bag filled with my treasures. I had a storm of emotions washing over me and the predominant one was fulfillment. My dream was to be a successful and passionate teacher so I could motivate my students to do their absolute best. I had high expectations for my students and I knew they were going to do extraordinary things with me this year. My classroom even had an atmosphere that was welcoming and full of mutual respect. You could walk in and feel the warmth and excitement all around. At the end of the week my students hugged me, waved goodbye, and one said, "Ms. Stephenson, I have a feeling you are going to be the best teacher I've ever had. I love you already!" This thought lingered for a moment. I responded, "No, I have a feeling you are going to be an amazing student. I know you will work hard and make me proud! Now your job is to go home and tell your family all about your first week of school." As I finished waving to the buses, I knew my kids were safely on their way home and I could leave knowing they were ready and, of course, happy! I believe this perfect ending happened because of a spectacular first day of school!

Now the fun begins. Week one, check! Week two...