Well, it’s been a long time since that first year, but I made a lot of mistakes. Seeing as we learn from our mistakes when I look back I know now that I learned a TON.
The first thing I did was came in with assumptions. We all presume to know things about the world around us, but sometimes it’s important to ASSUME NOTHING. And, let me tell you, that is a very hard thing to do.
I remember spending a ton of time decorating my classroom. I’m sure we all do when we get our first classroom. Well, I remember getting very frustrated one day with one of my little boys. You see, I hung a great poster on the wall near the sandbox. And this poor little boy was playing with the sandbox, but he kept rubbing up against the poster. Eventually he rubbed it so much that it ripped off the wall. I was horribly disappointed. I had spent a lot of time creating that poster (remember this is before we had color printers). I assumed that this child had control of his body. What I learned was that spacial awareness is a learned trait and that young children have not learned it yet. I ASSUMED that he was aware of his actions and he wasn’t.
I remember asking a child to color and cut out a picture. Now the child in this next story was not mentally delayed, she was not severely ELL, she was simply a child who had never had to do anything for herself. Everything in her household was done for her. So after asking her to color the picture, the child simply sat there until I finally noticed that she had not done any work. I told her eventually to color the picture but until I pointed out what the other children were doing, she had not thought to look around and see what the others were doing. I ASSUMED that she knew how to look around for help. Some children need guidance to learn this skill. When she finished coloring she sat there again. I ASSUMED she would come and ask for help, but again, many children need help learning how to ask. And finally, when I asked her how to cut out the picture she stared at me blankly. I took her over to the supplies and pulled out the scissors and gave them to her. She stared at me again and it finally clicked for me. She had never used scissors before. So I showed her how to put her fingers through the holes and make a cutting motion. I ASSUMED that all school aged children knew how to use crayons and scissors. Silly me.
I remember the time that somebody peed on the carpet. But there was nobody with wet pants. I ASSUMED that someone would fess up. But nobody ever did. All I can gather from this is that it was a girl in a skirt. I also ASSUMED that all children came to school fully toilet trained, but I learned that accidents can happen. I’ll never forget the day during Centers Time, a little girl followed me around the classroom to ask me if she could use the washroom. The thing is that it took a while for me to notice her. In the meantime, she had left a trail of pee all through the classroom while she followed me. So after a quick phone call for help to the custodian, there I was standing in the middle of the room blocking children from stepping on the wet trail.
So, like I said at the start, the best way to start your teaching career is to ASSUME NOTHING, because children are people too and they come from all different experiences and backgrounds, so you cannot assume anything will be like you expect it to be.
If you are an experienced teacher, I'd love to hear a little anecdote from your first year, and if you are a new teacher, I'd love to hear what your biggest fear is about your first week of school. Please leave me a comment below.
Speaking of new teachers. I thought I'd help you out and offer you a little freebie. Here's a checklist of classroom routines.
to get your own copy
If you'd like to check out the entire toolkit it's now in my TPT store.
It's part of my new product line: New Teacher? No Problem
Thanks for stopping by today!