My daughter, Abby, is starting her first year of teaching in her own classroom. Although she taught on an Indian reservation for a year, and was teaching ELL students last year, this is her first very own classroom. The excitement is very evident, and I can't help but smile as I remember that feeling of having my first classroom.
I started in a Catholic school. I had 35 students with bulky "old school desks" With very little supplies, I learned how to be resourceful and was recycling before people really started being "green." Those years in the Catholic school were priceless to me, and I have always been grateful for starting my career with that experience.
We walked in Abby's classroom, and it was a deja vu experience for me. Instead of the popular white boards that I have been using for the past 16 years, there were chalkboards. The tile floor was waiting to be waxed, and there in the middle of the room were all of her desks that were just like the ones I had 31 years ago.
We got to work arranging furniture and sorting through materials that were left by the previous teachers. At times, she felt overwhelmed and learned quickly that decisions had to be made about how she should organize materials, the routine she needs to set up for her students, and what materials to keep, pitch, or donate. I told her that the overwhelming feeling she was experiencing will come and go throughout her entire teaching career.
While digging through a box of materials, Abby found posters of the vowels. Each one had a faded picture of an animal that represented the sound of that particular vowel. We could tell that they were many years old. I halfway expected Abby to say, "No, I think I will buy some new ones," but she didn't. She smiled and said, "I love them!" I was then given the job of trimming them down and mounting them on colored construction paper before placing them on the wall. I smiled through this task thinking to myself, I think she will be just fine. Not having to have the perfect materials or a state of the art facility, Abby is so appreciative for this chance to teach. I remember being the same way. I just wanted to teach. I didn't care where or who, I was just extremely excited about being a teacher.
I still feel that way about teaching. It is such an honorable profession. It is also one of the hardest. The long hours of planning, grading, reflecting, and everything else teachers do was still worth it. Making a difference in a child's life is not only an honor, but it is also rewarding. I am sure I will miss the interaction with kids and my colleagues, but I am ready to start something new. Throughout our lives, we encounter many "firsts." Our first steps, first loves, first jobs, etc. I look forward to a new "first" in my near future.
Have a great start to your school year.