A Tic Tac Toe edition of the Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party! (Flying into First Grade)
I am choosing the middle horizontal row...
First Year of Teaching
Oh...my first year. I know that everyone's first year is crazy (even if you have the most perfectly, wonderfully behaved, sweetest children in the world!), but mine may take the cake. After graduating from Vanderbilt, a couple of friends decided on Boston area schools for various graduate pursuits. Not wanting to be left out of the big city adventures, I applied for (what felt like) a million teaching jobs, from kindergarten all the way up to sixth grade. In July, I was offered a kindergarten position at a school on an Air Force base north of Boston. I was thrilled and accepted the position on the spot! (Ok, ok...I called my mom first...) For the first six weeks, I co-taught with a teacher who was leaving for maternity leave and had decided not to return for the rest of the year. This was WONDERFUL. She was a great teacher, and it helped relieve a lot of the start-of-year stress and preparations. Things were going pretty swimmingly, though we had one boy who stood out for some seemingly minor behavior issues. We started him on a positive reinforcement plan, which seemed to work for awhile. However, things went from typical 5 year old behavior to VERY atypical 5 year old behavior faster than any of us (the social worker, the principal, the SPED liaison, or I) could have predicted. This child would scream, hit, punch, scratch, run from the room, and throw furniture. He ripped his clothes during a fit, not once, but twice. He was evaluated by every specialist available, and he was eventually removed from the classroom. Finally, he did receive two diagnoses, and we were able to refer him to a therapeutic behavioral school, in a nearby district. So...there was all of that. (For perspective, our SPED liaison told me that this was a case that teachers MAY see once in their careers...and for it to happen during my first year...wow.) I am so glad that this child is getting the help he needed, and I have heard that he is doing very well (almost four years later) at that school. Ok...so that would have been stressful enough for my first year. But how about a student, looking for attention, decides to engage in copycat behavior? Yes, you got it. Yelling, screaming, hitting, tearing apart the classroom, hiding under chairs, throwing furniture. Then, there was a child engaged in a nasty custody battle, and another whose parent left the family halfway through the year. And don't forget we were on a military base, so three of my kids had parents overseas. All in all, though, that year was an unbelievably valuable learning experience. I had the most supportive coworkers, who did everything they could to make sure that my students and I succeeded. I figured that if I could still love teaching after a first year like that, then this was definitely the career for me!
(Ok, my next two will be shorter. So if you're still reading...thank you...)
My Favorite School Memory
This is a tough one (probably true for most teachers - there's a reason we return to schools, right??), but I'm going to go with a fourth grade memory. (I sure do love fourth grade and fourth graders...I think I'll get back to that age eventually!) Every Thursday in fourth grade, we had Social Studies Bees, which are exactly what they sound like - spelling bees but with social studies questions. For a competitive person who enjoyed the spotlight, these were my THING. I can remember studying states and capitols for hours, knowing that the bees always came down to those tricky ones. (Montpelier, anyone?) What I take away from these bees is to remember that learning experiences should be FUN. They don't have to be worksheets and workbooks. (And yes, I can still name all 50 capitols.)
Books I'm Reading
I just recently (well, about a month ago - AH! Summer, slow down!) finished all three of Gillian Flynn's books: Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects. Wow. I highly, highly recommend all three. But, I also highly, highly recommend throwing in some mindless chick lit in between. All three are intense, insane mysteries. I am usually not bad at figuring out plot twists, but I didn't see any of the twists coming in these books. Great summer reads!
I'm currently reading The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl. I love her books about medieval and Tudor England and have read most of them. This current one is about Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, one of the main (women) players in the Cousins' War. I believe there are five books about the Cousins' War by Gregory, and I'll have one more to go after this one. If you enjoy historical fiction, I recommend any of Gregory's books!
Wow...if you read all of that, let's be friends? Seriously, leave a comment. I'd love to get to know some other teacher bloggers!