Remember Allisence? She wrote for Reality
101 in 2011–12. Allisence was just starting a second career and in her first year of teaching last time she blogged. Reality 101 is circling back
with her for a Reality
Check to get her perspective and
sage advice for new teachers.
Last year, I was a first-year teacher trying to figure out
how to navigate the system and balance student schedules that made my room feel
like a three-ring circus. I was perplexed by how to teach such a wide range of
students, but even though I have a year of experience under my belt, everything
seems that much more complicated!
This year, everything about my classroom is different.
Rather than having a span of six grade levels, I only have four, but rather
than only having seven students I have 12. There are only four things that have
stayed the same: two students, the fact that every day is a new adventure and
the reality that I still have no balance in my life.
Consequently, it makes sense that I still consider myself
a new teacher and one that’s always learning. Here are a few things I’ve
learned so far this school year:
Restraining is no
I have many students with severe behavior concerns that have required my aides and
me to become fully certified in non-violent crisis intervention (restraint
training). There have been many instances with students where we’ve had to
physically restrain them because they were an imminent danger to themselves or
others. This process is no fun for anyone.
I have a new student with a severe hearing impairment. While he is verbal and
communicates with spoken words, it’s been a blessing to teach him the alphabet
paired with sign language. Since he is a very kinesthetic learner, these hand
motions have improved his learning and retention abilities. Besides, sign
language hasn’t just helped him, it has helped all my students!
Nobody cares about
Last year, I would get stressed about observations and would worry about my
scores. I’ve since then realized that while I do still care about these
observations, they don’t really matter that much. If I’m teaching what and how
I’m supposed to be teaching on a daily basis, even unannounced observations are
no big deal.
You can’t be
friends with everyone.
Last year in hopes of creating collaborative relationships, I tried to be
extremely accommodating. While I still try to be as accommodating as I can be,
I now understand that I can’t be friends with everyone. Not everyone is going
to have the same beliefs as I do about my students and while I don’t want to burn
any bridges, there will always be people I work better with than others.
Wiggle seats work.
I took on a lot of kindergarteners this year who are just about the wiggliest
kids on the planet. After trying every free strategy I could think of to get
them to sit still, I finally went online and bought 10 wiggle
seats and plopped them down on the carpet. After the initial learning
curve, even my wiggliest students are now able to sit for a good 10 minutes on
They don’t always
Growing up it never occurred to my friends and me to call our teacher names no
matter how mad we were. Kids these days, however, are exposed to a whole lot
more and know quite a few more colorful words than my friends and I did. This
year I’ve been called just about every inappropriate word, but I try to remember
that they don’t mean it—they are upset and it’s not a personal attack.
But, when my students decide to tell me how much they love
me, I generally decide to take it like they mean it! Besides, it’s those words
that keep me coming back for a new adventure each and every day.