First vs second year of teaching

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Aliceacc, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 13, 2011

    A first year teacher PM'd me last night, asking about my comment that the second year is so much easier than the first.

    And I'm hoping (s)he won't mind, but I would like to post my first 2 responses for others as well.

    The problem I have is that I think both responses make it sound like the first year is impossibly hard, and I really don't believe it at all. Yes, there's a huge learning curve, but it's also tremendously rewarding.

    Other veterans, could you help me say what I really mean????

    OK, response #1:

    "There's a huge learning curve the first year you teach, as well as the first year you're in a particular building. (So a first year teacher has the double whammy.)

    In terms of the first year in general, you have to learn how to present the material in such a way that the kids understand it. It has to be challenging, but not too challenging. You have to learn how and when to document. You have to make SURE you get the syllabus, with just enough time to review, but not too much, and taking into account (at least in NY) the possiblity of snow days. You have to break down that material into 38 minute chunks, except on assembly days (when it's 32 minutes) or mass days (Catholic school obviously) when it's 29. Oh, and let's not even talk about what happens when a fire drill occurs during your first test of the year-- I can almost promise it will.

    Scared yet? :)

    OK, then let's talk about your first year in a building. You have to figure out when the bell will ring and where your homeroom is and where the faculty bathrooms are and who to have lunch with. And what's due when to whom. And who to talk to when a bulb blows in your classroom and who to talk to when you suspect someone is in the boy's room causing mischief.

    And then there's classroom management. You have to figure out how to say "Get rid of the gum, please" so you don't feel like a drill sargeant, but so the kid replies with "OK, sorry" instead of something else. You have to strike that happy medium between a class the kids enjoy and one where they learn a lot.

    OK, now for the good part.

    You'll be just fine. Really. Everyone gets through it. Go into it with the right attitude, concentrate on the material, and ask for help when you need it. Remember to be a professional, and to treat every kid as you would want someone teaching your child or your kid brother. It's really not all that hard.

    By year 2, you're a fixture in the building. You know which assembly is interesting, how to make a demand so it sounds almost like a request, and how to give that "teacher look" that cuts off misbehavior without interrupting your lesson.

    It will all come, I promise."
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 13, 2011

    "OK, my response from last night has been bothering me. While it was all true, I think it sounded better in my head than in writing.

    The reality is that college, even with student teaching, can't prepare you for the reality of teaching. I think that some time on these boards is MUCH better prep than any course I took in college. Of course, when I started in 1980, internet access was just off the horizon.

    I think the trick to success as a new teacher is a combination of self confidence and humility. The hardest thing for me when I started was knowing that I was the authority-- that I could and should tell these kids (who were the same age as my younger sister) what to do. I felt like a bit of a fraud, passing myself off as an adult.

    But you were hired as an adult, not as a quasi-authority. You were hired because someone saw in you the ability to not only teach the material, but to do it in such a way that the kids would listen and learn.

    My first year was a delight. There were no mentors back then. But I was fortunate to land in the first of 2 amazing schools. I became friendly with an incredible math teacher 10 years older than I am. Between Barbara and my department chair (a little old nun who was tough as nails, but in a loving way) I learned a lot. I hit none of the roadblocks I read about here.

    I hope this came off as more encouraging than last night. "
     
  4. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Aug 13, 2011

    First year is hard. There is no getting around it. I love the image that one first year teacher told me last year. She said, being a first year teacher is like riding a roller coaster for the first time. You grip the bar tightly and hang on for the ride hoping that your lunch does not come up. It is fast, furious, scary, and thrilling all in one.

    The second year that you get on the roller coaster, you start to really enjoy it. You expect the dips. You expect the free fall. You know when the turn is coming. And yet, you get on the ride again and again because the pay off is just that exciting every single time.

    I thought it was a wonderful analogy and how true! You NEVER forget your first roller coaster ride, just as you never forget your first year of teaching. So, buckle up; It is going to be the best ride of your life!
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 13, 2011

    Great analogy!

    THAT'S what I was trying to say :)
     
  6. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 13, 2011

    Great analogy, SCTeachInTX!

    Yes, the first year is hard, so is doing anything for the first time. Recognize when you can do it yourself and when you need to ask for help. Find someone, anyone, you can ask for help when you really need it. If you can, spend some of your planning time visiting other classrooms and observing. Visit here a lot to read and ask questions. Don't make your job your life, but realize that teaching is not the kind of job you can leave at the door when you walk out of the school. Keep a journal as a focus of what goes right; when you have a bad day (and we all do, no matter how long we have been teaching) you can look back at it. While some days may seem endless, the year will fly by and before you know it, you won't be a first year teacher anymore and someone will be coming to you for help and advice.
     
  7. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    Aug 13, 2011

    Great post and great advice. I wish someone would have told me and my friend that first year.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 13, 2011

    Great analogy, SC!
    I always think about my teacher training when I came to my district. The presenter showed a "staircase of competence" with each step labeled...start at unconsciously unskilled ( not knowing what you don't know), then consciously unskilled (knowing what you don't know), consciously skilled (knowing but needing to concentrate on the skill while doing it) and finally unconsciously skilled (it's become 'second nature).
    It's kind of like that with any new endeavor...think about learning to drive...you'd seen your parents do it for years and you were just so sure you could do it easily, then reality hits and you realize you have a lot to learn about driving, then you start driving and really concentrate on using the blinker or how much pressure to apply to the brakes, finally you are a driver and don't have to really think about the process of driving (a bit scary using the driving example!).
    Moving from one stage to another requires support, education, experience and reflection...it can be a really quick transition from step one to two...think about the posts on these forums...people go on interviews feeling very confident in their skills and then they get in the classroom and reality hits...what procedures to teach, how to manage behaviors, who can help me with a child about whom I'm concerned...it's normal and natural to feel that way. In actuality, it's a REALLY GOOD thing to feel that way. We've all experienced the newbie who is so confident that s/he has everything under control, that no help is needed thanks...when in reality what's going on in that classroom is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic because that person is stuck in 'unconscious unskilled' (and there's no disputing there are seasoned teachers of this ilk as well):unsure:
    Yes, things get easier. But it's not magic. It gets easier because professionals are reflective practitioners, they figure out what they need to learn to improve, they try new ideas and 'practice' until it works, they realize that there is always something new to learn to be a more effective educator. Congrats to your friend, Alice, on her continued professional development.:)
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 13, 2011

    OK, so I've learned this morning that I have to work on my analogies!!!!
     
  10. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Aug 13, 2011

    I really like that analogy CZACZA too! I am sure we all have some first year mishaps. (Like the time a child got her head stuck in the center hole of a chair in my first grade classroom and no one could get the child's head back out!!!!!:eek:) Those are the growing moments where you can go back and laugh.

    Just PLEASE first year teachers, ASK questions. ;)We can all see and sense when you are floundering. We really don't mind helping. :) But your bravado that you can do it all makes it hard, to give you help. So, ASK QUESTIONS and ASK for help when you need it. We are all here for children and THEY are what come first in our minds not how cute your room is or how perfect your curtains look in your new room.

    We are so much more impressed with the learning that is happening in your room and if your students are becoming problem solvers and independent thinkers. That is so much more important than the cute chairs that you just purchased for your reading corner. :love::love:
     
  11. myloveasdeep

    myloveasdeep Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2011

    I'm going into my second year and I have been thinking about the same things. I can look back at my first year and then look at a possible lesson and know whether it is worth doing with my students. I know that decorations are not that important...nice, but not that important. I know when my energy dips are in the year and when my student's dips are, so I can try to be ready for them next time. I know that writer's workshop actually IS way harder than I thought, and that "conferencing" in corners does not just work out on its own like in Atwell's books. Desks in circles are a bad bad plan, and at the same time, so is constantly pacing the room. I know that planned student choice is not the same as breaking down under their complaints and changing the assignment. I had a lot of grand ideas about being a facilitator, not a teacher, and I went about it the wrong way. I think I lost some respect there. I also underestimated the level my students were ready to work at...they can chew on really big ideas...but they need help making a thesis statement and supporting it. I feel much more confident than I did, but I am still very conscious of the 1% I know and the 99% I don't. I am lucky to have a great mentor teacher...but we hired a brand new, just graduated first year and she's sharing my office, so now I will be a mentor too. I hope I can help her a little and not steer her wrong.
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 13, 2011

    Having just read that post, I can PROMISE you: you'll be a HUGE help!!!!!
     
  13. Leatherette

    Leatherette Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2011

    My first year and second years were so different, it is hard to know. The first year was high school and country - as in no kids during hunting season. I had no materials. I was a resource teacher, but they did not put my kids in any academic classes, so it was like self-contained. All of my kids spent half of the day with me, and half at a technical school. My principal was nice, but mostly he just was glad I never sent kids to his office. He never observed me.

    My second year was in an urban school in a self-contained EBD classroom in elementary. I had a very hands-on principal who came in my room, sat on the floor and modeled lessons, and taught me more than I ever learned in school or in my first year.
     
  14. ACardAttack

    ACardAttack Companion

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    Aug 14, 2011

    I'm starting my second year (in the same school) so I am expecting a lot more success and even students I dont know, some of them know of me.

    I agree with your statement here...the biggest problem is when student teaching happens at one type of school and you start teaching at another type...

    I student taught in a very upper class, high achieving school. I am teaching at a lower/lower middle class (90%+ on free and reduced lunch) and a failing school....night and day difference...I now know what to expect in my second year from the students which will help me out a lot!
     
  15. Mrs. Q

    Mrs. Q Cohort

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    Aug 14, 2011

    Tomorrow I start my second year of teaching (same school).

    And I agree with everything you said.

    The first year was HARD. I did exceptionally well in college, in all my teacher prep courses, and in student teaching. I got hired on the spot. And EVERY SINGLE day was still hard. Every day is something new, something you've never encountered, something you don't know how to do or where to go to do it.

    I feel incredibly relaxed this time around. I know where everything is, I have a whole year of lesson plans to fall back on, my room is like I want it. I know every year is different, but all those little things are taken care of and now I can focus on REALLY teaching.
     
  16. MATgrad

    MATgrad Groupie

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    This will be my third-year teaching self-contained (6th overall). The difference between that 1st and 2nd year was HUGE. It was so much more relaxing and again my focus has shifted even more into the curriculum and less into the decor. I'm spending my weekend making visual schedules/visual stories and figuring out how I want to do my morning meeting.
     
  17. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    This thread makes me so optimistic! I think some of my challenges come from just not knowing where things are in the building, or not having relationships with people in the building. Here's to week 2 of the first year! I'm just taking it one day at a time. I've only cried once so far. :lol:
     
  18. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Aug 14, 2011

    Oh the roller coaster ride of the first year! Last year was my first year... and boy was it ever so interesting. College didn't quite prepare me for effective discipline strategies, or proper planning using the Standard Course of Study, or integrating, or feeding children who are hungry, letting children rest when they fall asleep during a lesson, working with parents, meeting deadlines, and pushing past your comfort zone. Would I want to do my first year over again! NOOO! Do I want to continue teaching absolutely yes a million times!

    I'm finding that with my 2nd year so far... I'm only 7 days in. That I'm much more confident, I give the children clear directions, ask for questions following them. If my rules/directions are broken I remind once then the 2nd time its a consequence. I feel so much freer this school year! I don't feel bound by so much of the unknown, I'm working with my co-teacher so much more effectively and I'm able to direct her a lot better than last year.

    I'm finding that so far, I'm having more fun and I truly look forward to each day of school with no hesitation, no regrets, no dragging down the hallway.... now if I can stop hitting the snooze button I would be good to go!

    OH and yes last year I did ask tons of questions and collaborated with my grade level team, specialist in the building, speech... absolutely everyone from prek to 5th grade, cafateria staff and everyone in between. This builds absolutely meaningful relationships that as a first year teacher it helps to have that support and understanding from them.
     
  19. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Aug 14, 2011

    I felt the same way last year (my first year). The things you mentioned are some of the things that I feel so much better about this year. Last year, I relocated out here without knowing a soul, and was really concerned about making any friends- what if my coworkers weren't nice, or didn't socialize outside of school, etc. It was really hard to go into such a tight-knit staff not knowing anyone. Now that I have those relationships all set, I feel SO much better going into this year. This afternoon, I'm headed to the local pool with 5 of our teachers- girls I've been spending time with all summer. We're organizing a drinks/movie night for the night before our first teacher work day- sort of our last celebration of summer! I know who to go to if I have questions, who to vent to, who to celebrate successes with. I know how the school routines work and I know my students and how they learn. I'm in special ed and I teach lessons based on what the students goals are at the time, so unfortunately I will never be able to re-use the same lesson plans/timeline from the previous year. I am jealous of classroom teachers that can do that! However, just from teaching these kids for a whole year last year I am coming in with a lot of new ideas on how I want to run lessons. It's also really nice to just be a permanent fixture in the building...I have my place among the staff and I am starting this year as a respected, knowledgeable teacher- not some unknown that everybody feels like they have to figure out!

    I've mentioned this on here before, but I actually think I worked 10 x harder in student teaching. People mention a lot of "hand holding"- I didn't feel that at all in my placement. It could be because my co-op teacher was so great about NOT doing that. We were supposed to turn in lesson plans to our co-op teachers, and she told me she'd collect them from me but she wouldn't edit them, because she thought I'd learn a lot better from making mistakes and learning to fix them myself, rather than have her tell me some other idea would work better before I even did the lesson. I also student taught for a full year where I was 100% in charge for almost that entire time. I felt very prepared for teaching when I started my first year- it was more things like worrying about how I'd fit in with the staff, learning the kids and routines in the building, and completing different state IEPs/paperwork and things like that.
     
  20. indigo-angel

    indigo-angel Companion

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    Aug 14, 2011

    I start my second year of teaching tomorrow, and I feel like I'm starting year one. I'm at a new school, teaching classes I've never taught before. I think this year may be harder than last year (at least at this moment).
     
  21. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Aug 14, 2011

    It is hard switching schools and grade levels, and it can feel like you're doing your first year all over again. But you have EXPERIENCE being in a room full of children, presenting information to them, writing plans, dealing with parents, and all the other little nuances of teaching. Take confidence in it!
     
  22. indigo-angel

    indigo-angel Companion

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    Aug 14, 2011

    Thanks Chebrutta:hugs:

    I can say that classroom management, and parents aren't my biggest worries. I'm worried about the AP class I'm teaching for the first time and test scores.
     
  23. joe22k

    joe22k Rookie

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    Aug 14, 2011

    I am starting off year four and a lot I have read so far in this post I wish I had read before my first year. I will agree that the difference between year 1 and year 2 is HUGE!

    As someone mentioned earlier, when I started out I wasn't used to being the adult in the room. I would tell the students something but I wasn't use to telling someone something and them having to listen to me. That quickly changed.

    My first year I had been warned how hard it would be and my goal was survival. One of the good things that I did though was try to become friends with everyone in my building. I dont know if I have ever tried so hard to get coworkers to like me. I knew however that I may need these people. Whether that philosophy was right or wrong, I did learned so much from them and it made my first year a whole lot easier.

    Someone said earlier that it takes reflection and work for the second year to be so much better. I can say that the last day of school my first year I was ready to begin year 2 immediately. I didn't feel I did a good job teaching my students my first year and I wanted to prove that the year was not a good reflection of me as a teacher. I researched and learned so much that summer and that helped me out in year two. I would never want to go back and teach my first year again but it was a huge learning experience that made me into the teacher I am today. Good luck to everyone this school year!
     
  24. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Aug 14, 2011

    Great info here everyone! Wish I'd known about this site when I started 6 years ago. Was it even here? Anyway, it is a steep learning curve, we make it through, and those who thrive do tons of reflections. Not that we beat ourselves up, but we are able to humbly see where we can improve, how we can take what worked and make it better, and finally we are able to find a mentor with whom we can share ideas.
     
  25. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Aug 15, 2011

    I switched schools and grade levels two months into my second year. I have to say my second year was harder than my first. I walked into my first year expecting it to be awful and although it was hard it was not as difficult as the second year.
     

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