Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"It feels like the first time"...over and over again.

"It's a bird, it's a plane, it's.....SuperTeacher!"

Sorry, folks, not me. As promised on Janet's blog,"The Art of Getting By", here is my post about my most memorable first day of school. I'm sad to say, I don't specifically remember any of my own first days of school. I remember things that happened throughout my school years, but not any first day. I hope I am making things more memorable for MY students.

As a teacher, I have had many "first day"s, many of them terrifying. My first teaching job EVER was teaching 6th grade in South Bend, Indiana. I was only 10 years older than the students. I could not sleep the night before, and I spun through everything I had planned by lunchtime, I was so hyper.

A few years later, I quit to stay home with the kids. About 6 years ago, I went back and had my "first day of teaching" all over again. This time it was 3rd grade in a small Catholic school in Louisville, and I now was the mother of 4 children of my own. I really liked that school and those kids. They made it easy. That school and its staff supported me through my separation and divorce. It's closed now.

The year after I got divorced, I got remarried and moved to Hardin County, Kentucky, where I could not find a job teaching "regular" elementary school. But a young principal in Radcliff, Kentucky, desparate to fill her openings, saw that I had the credentials to teach special education and asked me to try teaching students with learning disabilities. And so another "first day" - teaching in an area where I was technically qualified but had absolutely no experience. It was an eye-opening experience. I was mentored by several teachers on staff who DID know what they were doing, and didn't mind showing me the ropes, and so I've been in special education ever since.

This year's "first day" was a little scary for me as well. I don't think you ever get completely over the "first day" butterflies, but this year was different. After 3 years as a LD resource teacher, a job I was quite comfortable in, I switched to teaching students with emotional and behavior disorders, primary age, self-contained. I started with 5 students, grades K-4, and I have a full-time aide. As I said in the beginning of this post, I don't ever think I've been "Super Teacher" but I think I have always done a good job for my students. I was so afraid I couldn't handle this. And there is too much at stake for me to fail. But the first day went well, the first week went well, and today was Day 15, and I think I'm going to like it here.

Don't get me wrong. I have been tried, discouraged, frustrated, kicked by a student, called a "fat bitch", and cried my eyes out one day after school. But I love the opportunity to individualize my instruction, to really make a difference, to see the daily improvement,to really get to know my students, to accomplish more than has been previously expected of them. I am making a difference. Or I'm losing my mind. Depends on which day you catch me. (ha, ha).

Here's to every student having a great first day and a successful year, every year.
And here's to the teachers who teach them, and learn from them.

Remember, the difference between a good day and a bad day....is your attitude.


Janet said...

This was a great post, and one that I can relate to. I wrote min but didn't publish it yet, but I too talk about how those first day butterflies never completely fade.

Hope you realized my busting on the lateness of this post was all in good fun!:)

eatmisery said...


Sayre said...

It takes a very special person to teach LD or emotional, disfunctional children. Heck, teaching the normal ones must be a challenge! An old friend of mine teaches special ed. Her son was brain damaged in an accident, so she volunteered in his classrooms, which is how she got started. I hope you hang in there... they need people like you - even when they call you names.

sunShine said...

What a great post. It does take a special person to take on the task of educating the special needs children.

Tense Teacher said...

Oh, wow, I really needed to hear that last line, 'cause my attitude has been the pits nearly everyday since school started a few weeks ago.

And you're right: Even we teachers get those first day butterflies. I think when a teacher stops getting them, it's time to quit teaching.

The Princess said...

Hope day 55 is just as enjoyable as day 15 has been!

KaraMia said...

I wish all teachers were like you.

Redneck Nerdboy! said...

I continue to this day, to get nervous over things that I know I'll get through with no problems. But I still get nervous and I haven't yet found a way to relieve the butterflies when it happens.

Oh well.