It is almost time to go back to school. When I was a kid, I always remember this as an exciting time filled with new clothes, brand new school supplies and a curiosity about the year to come. As a teacher, I find myself getting excited about the same things. I carefully shopped for "back to school clothes" to give myself a professional look for the new year. I visited the local teacher supply stores in which I am like a kid in a candy store, choosing my new lesson plan book and other materials to get the year off to a great start. I checked out my class list and read the available information about my new students in an attempt to get to know them before I actually meet them. Bottom line, I feel myself getting excited. Of course it is hard to go back to work after a blissful summer of relaxation, but I have come to that point where I feel I am ready to go back.
In addition to my simmering excitement, I am filled with a great motivation to surpass what I have done in the past. I am a person who always wants to achieve bigger, better, greater. I am not happy to just do the minimum, I want to do it all. During my first two years of teaching, I completed endorsements in English as a Second Language and Special Education. I participated in a part time cohort, taking courses in the evenings after work, and topped it off with a Master's Degree. As if learning the ropes and being a new teacher were not enough, I dove in the deep end and just about kept my head above water in order to achieve my goals, but I did! I am a better teacher because of it.
I don't just want to be a regular teacher. I want to be a phenomenal teacher. I approach this year thinking, what can I do differently this year to make it better than years past? How can I ensure that this year my students behave so I can spend more time teaching and enjoying the kids than waiting for them to stop talking and interrupting? How can I be the best teacher there ever was because I don't want to be anything less?
A new year is a time for new beginnings, so rather than get bogged down with worries, allowing them to become roadblocks, I see it as a time for a fresh start. My mom pointed out to me that one of the best things about teaching is the fresh start that comes with every new year. New students, new parents, new ideas, new commitments to success. I am motivated, rested, and ready.
I found myself writing a lot of goals this summer. In addition to writing a 43 page Master's project paper, I wrote in a journal for the first time since I was a kid. I kept track of ideas, hopes, teaching strategies, etc. because I felt that if I wrote them down, I would be more likely to actually follow through with them. I love writing and I love setting goals, so it worked out well for me. I am starting the new year with a laundry list of things I want to accomplish, but I know that I will because I am committed.
As part of my Master's project, I read a lot about the importance of high expectations for students. I realized the true significance of believing in my students and providing them with every opportunity for success. I also realized the importance of having high expectations for myself.
As the year progresses, I would like to share the good, the bad, and the inspiring things that take place in my First Grade classroom. Some days will be great, some days I will feel like a complete failure, but I will always go back.
Year 3, Bring it on!