In many ways I feel like a first year teacher again. I am 49 years old, teaching is my second career (I was a chemist). I have had many first years. I was an intern instead of a student teacher teaching Earth Science when I started, I had no idea what I was doing, I had 35-40 8th graders and no support system but I had just left a promising career for this and I wasn't going to quit. I remember staying up late, reading, studying doing everything I could to be a good teacher, but I also knew I couldn't recover from my early mistakes with my students. My classroom management was horrendous. I did a few cool labs and I think I helped one student that year.
My second first year I spent at a nice private school with small classes. I had great support from one wonderful teacher and a lab assistant. The dream job. I still messed up with the classroom management and I couldn't figure out how to really do this job effectively. I was teaching 9th grade Physical Science and 11th grade Chemistry. I quit this job when daycare for my 4 year old closed and I drove to work crying one day (I was also about 5 months pregnant).
I left teaching for 3 years and stayed home to raise my 3 boys. I tutored math and chemistry a little, I volunteered at their schools. I realized I loved doing math whenever I had a student, I couldn't wait to prep for our sessions. When my oldest son entered 6th grade we transferred him to a private school. He was lost at the public school and he needed attention. In the spring a math teacher position opened up at his school and there would be a promising tuition discount, so I applied and got the job.
Then Year One: Number 3 happened. How do I have such a terrible time learning. Parents complained about me. The kids hated me. I worked harder than I had ever worked. I had no idea how to teach math. I enrolled in a math methods class and read books on classroom management. Things got better but I knew I had to just wait for the next batch of kids because it was too late to restore trust. I couldn't wait for them to graduate (I work in a pK-12 school) so I wouldn't have to feel guilty anytime I saw one of them.
I then taught for 8 more years and for the most part did ok. I got into a groove. I felt students were learning, I was told that I was a good teacher. Then last year I went back to teaching Science more than Math, that was ok too, no major problems except staying up reading and planning. It never got easier, just better because I became more effective as a teacher. I still stay up until midnight working on school stuff most nights.
Year 1:Number 4
I discovered blogs, Standards-based grading and what other teachers were doing. I had been working in isolation and I had never collaborated with another teacher (except a little with that wonderful teacher at my job in that other private school). I'm also working on the Science course with a phenomenal teacher and that has been great (even though I am busier now than ever). I started SBG and I could not have made more mistakes, first grading homework, then not grading it, now back to grading it. I'm frustrated with the apathy of many of my students. I still, after all these years, have classroom management issues. I don't want to wait until next year to start over and get through to a new batch of kids, I still have 6-7 weeks with these kids and I love them all. That is one difference. I don't think I loved my students as much during Year's 1 and 2.
Ideas for the rest of the year.
In Earth Science, I'm going to focus on their learning and give as much feedback as possible. I don't do SBG there and the kids are doing fine.
In Geometry, I am doing ok. My students are doing the homework that I carefully select to help them learn. I wish I didn't have to grade it to make them do it but I am making it worth a very small percentage and giving them regular feedback. I'm thinking that the homework quizzes I give could be just for feedback not for a grade. They like working together and they're engagement is satisfactory. They seemed to love right triangle trig last week. They are doing well with their understanding.
In Algebra, I'm having a problem, many are disengaged, they won't even pretend to listen. When it is time to do group work they do a little work (for their peers). Only about 25% of them are doing their homework. Many have not mastered important concepts. I am going to have to change a few recommendations for next year. I'm thinking now that I should be extremely careful with the homework I assign and do the spaced practice (from CPM) in class. I'm also thinking of having them make a Definitions and Properties Manual to use for the rest of the year. I refuse to play the points game with them. This isn't thought out very well, just a little rambling....