life as a first year teacher: first semester

Today is the last day of the first semester of my first year of teaching.  What felt like the longest 4.5 months of my life actually flew by in a flash.  It’s crazy to think that some of the students I had this semester I won’t have any more for the rest of the year.

There is so much that I am still learning about teaching, students, and myself as an educator.  This week has been particularly trying after the shooting in Connecticut last week.  For the first time ever, I was nervous to go to school on Monday out of fear of what could happen at my school.  I walked into my classroom (I’m teaching health right now, so I’ve been spending most of my time in the classroom) thinking of what I could do to protect my students should something like that happen.  Where would we go?  How would I respond?  And how in the world was I going to fit 30 students into a 6×8 foot storage room – along with another class? 

I still have so much I need and want to improve on.  I think I have the potential to be a great teacher, but I’m not there yet.  And as a perfectionist, it’s been hard for me to accept that.  I want to be the best teacher, but even the best teachers had to learn what to do to become that.

I’m learning as I go.  I’m taking everything in.  I’m open to criticism.  I had probably the worst evaluation/observation that I could have ever dreamed up.  But, I’ve taken the advice from my principal and am trying to improve on that.

My biggest struggle is classroom management.  I need to be tougher.  I need to be more strict.  And I really need to be more consistent.

I also need to figure out a way of teaching that not only works for me, but works for my students.  It’s always heartbreaking as a teacher for a student to tell you (out loud, in the middle of class) that they’re bored.  I want to make my lessons interesting.  I want my students to become as passionate about health and physical activity as I am.

I’m still learning.  It’ll get better.  I’ll get better.  And hopefully, by the end of 2nd semester, I’ll finally get the hang of this whole teaching thing…

When did you feel like you finally got the hang of your first “real” job?  Any teachers have any advice on classroom management?

  • Amy

    Clear & consistent classroom rules and expectations are key to management! Keep it simple: too many can make it hard for you to manage. Call the students on their behavior right away. It sets the tone.
    I’ve been teaching for 17 years and it gets easier and better as you go. Hang in there!!
    Amy recently posted..Fitness Friday: PV.Body – Fitness Fashion Mania

  • Sarah

    Currently I am a student teacher in a grade 1/2 classroom! I think the most important thing to do is be clear and consistent. Give reasons as to why something is happening or what you expect of them. Its important at the beginning of the year to set out your expectations and make sure you enforce it! Coming from me, this is very hard to do as I am not a “hard” person, but my professor and I talked about this. Its not about being mean, its about being a figure of authority. Good luck! I’m sure you’re doing better than you think 🙂

  • Kelly

    The first year to me was all about surviving. Although I maintained decent classroom management last year, I really struggled with figuring out what worked best for me. I spent the entire year asking a million questions on classroom management to the teacher next door to me. I cried, I put a lot of pressure on myself. This year I came into the classroom knowing exactly what kind of teacher I am, what kind of rules I will enforce, what kind of tone I maintain, and what kind of relationships that I want to have with my students. This year has been SO MUCH BETTER. Yes, I have had some struggles. I have been cursed at and battled it out with students. However, overall I have seen such an improvement with my students’ behavior and academic achievement. I am so proud of the gains I have made, but I am always learning and I know every year I will continue to grow and become a better teacher.

  • R aud

    I felt nervous the first year all the time, and continue to feel nervous everytime we have a change in management. I constantly review my work and constantly tell myself I could be busier, I could take on more or I should do it better. My biggest challenge is being able to direct myself, it’s especially hard when ur given a rough guideline and when ur job differs day to day.

  • R aud

    May I add that I think teachers deserve the highest pay, the pressure and stress u guys have to handle is huge! I was awful as a student and can’t imagine what I put my teachers through. Not only are most kids evil, they can be intimidating and pretty stubborn

  • Kelly

    Clear and consistent is always key. With my middle school students, I actually had each class create their own rules. I have a survey that each class fills out at the beginning of their semester, and I compile the most mentioned answers to the questions. I got it straight out of the book “Discipline with Dignity,” and I would highly encourage any teacher to read that book, especially if you’re working in an urban setting. It really changed the way I managed my classroom for the better!

  • Hey! Just found your blog. I too was a first year teacher 8 years ago. As much as they stressed classroom management, it wasn’t in me to be a hardass. But, I did find that two things worked. If students weren’t listening, I stopped and waited. Sometimes for long periods of time. That always got their attention and over time I would just stop and say, “Ill wait.” The other thing is to let them know that I can be nice most of the time, but if I’m upset, they know it. And quite frankly that’s my personality outside of the classroom too. Good luck!

  • I found you through the Women’s Running Bloggers on the run spotlight. I’m a runner and teacher too, and I remember my first year very clearly. It is tough! Classroom management gets easier as you realize what you want from your students. I always start out pretty strict and then loosen from there, because you can’t go the other way. I also have found that my students respect me because they know they can’t get away with stuff in my classroom, so you might keep that in mind when you feel like you’re being mean. When students know what to expect they won’t push the rules, and as everyone else has said, clear and consistent is best. The first year is so hard though, so just slogging through is my best advice. Figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what you want to do next year. Also, I teach middle school history, and I’m constantly worries that students are bored! When they make comments like “that class went so fast!” or “I like talking about this!” I get really excited. But you also have to keep in mind that they’re used to a fast paced world with constant stimulation from television, video games, computers, etc. It’s hard to constantly keep them excited. I try to make sure that if I know a lesson isn’t going to be that exciting then I make one that’s more exciting within a class or two so they’re always on their toes with what they’re going to get when they come to class! I’m excited to follow your blog now! I’m glad I found you.
    meghan @ little girl in the big world recently posted..New Year’s Eve fancies to New Year’s Day commitments

  • Tara

    It’s sort of true what they say about “don’t smile until December.” 🙂

    It’ll get easier. Decide what you want your classroom to look like, figure out your personality strengths that will make that happen, put it into place and go. Like anything worth having, it’s going to take time; be patient with yourself!