Memoirs of a second year teacher

Sometimes I have to pinch myself.

Was it really me this time last year in a frenzy of worksheets and with anxiety swirling in my stomach every time I thought about my Year 10 class?

Already halfway through Term 1, this year is flying past. My new goals and the new focus of my teaching, however, has left me wondering rather than worrying. My stress has turned to motivation and at the end of the day I am brimming with stories of enthusiasm rather than horror stories (mind you, there have been a couple of those recently).

This has made me wonder several things:
1. Will I start taking my brilliant classes for granted and become hardened?
2. Is my bubble about to burst? and
3. Seriously, this is considered WORK?

Dilemma #1

I have an Advanced Year 11 class and an extension Year 10 class this year. The biggest issue for students in both classes is the level of confidence they have and their willingness to attempt new things time and time again, even when they fail. I am studying the poet Donne with my Year 10 class and they are loving it, but they baulk every time they come across an unfamiliar word. I’m trying to teach them to read in context, and slowly, slowly they are catching on. I do love their enthusiasm though (and their giggles as we talk about sexual innuendo). They are also far more willing to take creative risks that my Year 11 class-we wrote conceits of our own last week and they embraced the challenge.
At the beginning of the year I was amazed by how much I enjoyed my classes; I was intellectually stimulated by the questions they asked and I could concentrate on teaching and learning rather than crowd control. Now though, my expectations are different; I’m disappointed when the kids don’t appear to be enjoying the learning, I’m disenchanted when getting through the material takes longer than I expected, I’m disheartened when I feel like continuity has been broken or when I’m unable to get the students to connect their learning.
Whereas, last year, small wins in my troublesome classes were so rewarding, now it takes something astounding to feel as though I’ve made a tangible difference for these kids.

Dilemma #2

When I had a meeting with my Head Teacher recently, she mentioned that the stress of an advanced class was yet to hit me as it was more about the pressure teachers of these classes place upon themselves rather than the pressure from external forces. I have this ominous feeling which seems like a hawk that’s circling, closing in.
What I do know is that my Year 11s have improved tenfold since the beginning of the year. We’ve focused on specific things and there has been rapid growth in those areas. Their confidence is increasingly, albeit incrementally, but they are still reluctant to volunteer information or discuss. Everything I get from them must be drawn out painfully.
I just wonder, when they submit their first assessment task, will how hard I have pushed them be hard enough? Will the amount of GROWTH matter, considering there is no real measure of growth? Or will the reliance on raw scores be my undoing?

Dilemma #3

I think I’m annoying people at work; I walk (sometimes I skip, I kid you not) around the school with a grin plastered on my face in the mornings. I love being there. I’m relaxed, I’m confident in what I’m teaching, I’m not paranoid that there’s always someone at my back, waiting for me to do the wrong thing (I mean, that person is possibly still there, but I’m far more willing to take them on than I was before!) and I’m much more assertive with both students and staff members.
The kids make each and every minute of my day, whether it be that they make me annoyed, they make me laugh or they make me think, they are the centre of my school universe.
It annoys my friends and family no end that I couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than doing school work. Not only do they think that I need to seek counseling about an inability to separate work and home life, but they is also jealous of the room that school occupies in my headspace constantly. Because it’s something they can’t relate to, could never understand nor sympathise with my genuine interest in the kid who serves me at the supermarket, whom I stop to talk to for 10 minutes when they want to go home, nor the way I respond instantly to kids’ emails or edmodo comments, yet can take hours to answer their texts (oops!).

There we are then, the perils of being a second year teacher. No more am I likely to be pushed out a window… but the challenges presented by this year in my career are, in some ways, even more daunting.


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  1. * missjessm says:

    I don’t know if these feelings ever go away!
    I love love love what I do… And often define myself as a teacher… The highs and the lows come home with me and they are intertwined into my being…
    I skip and smile still too… I still stress about the imminent pressures of senior classes and I certainly want to see evidence of successes EVERY lesson….
    All we can do is self moderate these feelings and reflect upon- the fact that you have blogged about them, means they are out of your head!
    No go have a shower and go to bed! Haha! It will wash away the day and you can start again the next day! (That is how I cope!)
    As for my partner…. He has learnt to accept me as a geek! That is who I am!
    Enjoy your second year….!

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago
  2. I remember the first day of my second year teaching and being able to ask students how their holidays were, one standing out in my mind because I knew she was going to India and was able to be specific in my questioning. I then felt very conscious of the new teachers who didn’t know any of the students and felt that immense relief of how far I’d travelled in one year.

    10 years into my teaching I’m facing similar dilemmas to you by changing schools for the first time. It’s a little like falling in love again. I was becoming angry and miserable by all the stuff happening outside my classroom at my old school, that I had to change. Now I’m calmer and happier and enjoying the challenge of how to help make those brains tick that little bit more than they did before. I’m still finding my way as I slowly shake up the style of my teaching once more and challenge the students to adapt to new ways of learning. I’ve come into this new school with a solid reputation so I feel a bit of pressure to live up to it, unlike when you’re new and basically unknown. I feel bad when I talk with people from my old school who are unhappy and I’m just bursting with the numerous moments of joy I’m having once again in my teaching life. I’m smiling a lot once again.

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago

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