Tomorrow is the last day of school. I finally made it.
It is also the end of my second year of full-time teaching. Previously, I was a student teacher, substitute teacher, and summer camp teacher, but none of those really compare to being a full-time school teacher.
My first year was a year full of mistakes, as is every first year teacher’s (so I’ve been told).
That’s not to say anything went horribly wrong. My students learned, did well on standardized tests, and seemed pretty happy. There were no serious injuries or (I’m pretty sure) need for deep therapy. So, if you are a parent, you can be assured that your children will be physically and emotionally safe with a first year teacher.
It is simply a fact that a first year teacher is relatively inexperienced, and may not know the “best” way to organize a classroom, explain every concept, manage every behavior issue, etc.
A first year teacher, however, brings enthusiasm and passion that a more experienced teacher might not have.
I poured my heart and soul into my first year of teaching. I was intensely grateful for that first opportunity, and worked my butt off to prove that I deserved it. I also learned more about teaching than I ever will in a single year.
I am so glad I will never be a first year teacher again. I simply would not have survived without my fellow second grade teachers, who were wonderfully kind and generous. They provided me with lesson plans, tests, worksheets, and good advice on managing all my new responsibilities.
This last year, I was so much more confident. I knew what I was doing, and I knew that I knew it. I had well established classroom routines. I knew what my students needed to learn. I didn’t need to review lessons over and over again to know what to say. I wasn’t afraid of my students’ parents. I incorporated more art and science projects. I helped students make more connections between the different subjects we studied. I’m learning how to pick my battles when managing student behavior.
The second year was less stressful than the first year, and less overwhelming. Next year, I should be a seasoned veteran, right?
Well, maybe not. After all, there is always more to learn, especially when it comes to teaching. Every unique child brings his or her own unique challenges.
For right now, though: bring on Summer vacation. Once I’ve finished shoving things away into cupboards and have said goodbye to my soon-to-be third graders, I don’t want to think about second grade until the end of next August.