The first years of practice can be a time of great hope and exhilaration -- and fatigue and anxiety. This group is designed to allow new teachers and veterans alike to connect and share that sense of community that is so important in the first years.

Still got a lot to learn...

Kelly Gilfillan

Hi all!

I'm actually an experienced teacher with more than five years of high school English under my belt. However, after losing my job due to budget cuts last year, I've had the chance to reflect and realize exactly how much I still had to learn. In short, I made many mistakes throughout my short career, and though it's reasonable to say that everybody makes mistakes within the first few years, I feel that I made more than others who had been teaching as long as I. This is not due to me being overly critical with myself; administrators often commented that my work was not up to snuff in several areas, and though I was trying my best, I never seemed to figure things out. Though my kids were learning and their test grades improved, administrators often told me I was inconsistent in classroom management and I was not challenging the kids enough. In some ways, it's true.

While I certainly hold myself responsible for much of my sub-standard practices (though I will emphasize it was not due to lack of passion or desire to improve), I think some of the blame can come from lack of mentorship. I won't bore you with details, suffice it to say that while I had mentors in name, they did very little for me in deed and I did not learn anything from them at all. So, now that I've had the chance to think about all this, I'm realizing that it might be a good idea to take the initiative and find some help for my issues before trying to re-enter a classroom.

So, having said all that, I am open to advice from anyone, but if you teach secondary English, that would be even better. I will take advice on any subject (lesson plan development, classroom management, etc.), but ultimately, I would like to collaborate with someone - almost like a teacher/student so I might get the basics I didn't get before.

And with that, I'll be on my way. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from someone soon!

Comments (5)

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Edu Consultant. Blogger & Social Media Marketing at Edutopia

Hi Kelly

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It sounds like it's been a bit rough. But you know what? You can restart your career any time you want!
I wrote a real long response to Ashley in our group a few days ago.
You may want to go read it...She wrote that she was losing hope. We connected and I hope to be able to dialogue with her through this portal and Twitter.
Are you on Twitter? Would love to connect and support you, as well.
I have met so many wonderful, supportive educators there, I highly recommend it. You are going to find many new friends. All so capable and professional...willing to support and lend a hand.
Please consider following me @teachingwthsoul. Check out some of my followers and their bios and follow them. Tweet at them and get some support.
Join the #edchat on Tuesdays at 9 am and 6pm PST. Check out the http://teacherbootcamp.edublogs.org/ run by Shelly Terrell.
She's a young secondary language teacher, who lives in Germany.She has tons of education "tweeps".
Hope these suggestions will be get you thinking about re-entering teaching again soon!

Substitute

Standards

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Hello,

After reading Kelly's post, I again can relate, as you know Lisa. Although I do not have much advice to give, Kelly's comment sparked a thought in my head that truly related to my first year experience that I wrote about in the other comment string. If our students are learning, enjoying learning, and are engaged in lessons, AND not to mention, have parents who are happily supporting us, shouldn't that be the standard for which success is measured? Instead, I personally found that my performance was rated based on what someone else envisioned, what someone else wanted, not what I wanted and not what was actually working. Everyone is different in the teaching profession and we all have different preferences in regards to how we manage our classrooms. This is a large generalization, but it seems that administrators often take a biased approach in evaluating teachers and focus a small part on how they view their teachers based on their own preferences. If my students chatted a bit during a transition in my class, but were ready to go when I was, I was fine with that. The currciculum was demanding, and breaks were few and far between because I barely felt as though I could keep up (not realizing how important things like Brain Breaks really are, and how little time they really take up). However, talking during a transition or two equalled "poor classroom management" in my administrator's books. If my students' grades weren't consistent, if they weren't learning new things, making new friends, experiencing new things, and if their parents weren't constantly telling me what a great job I was doing and how I've improved their child's academics and social abilities more than they've ever seen - Then I could understand being told that my classroom management was poor.

But, as you have mentioned, I have to continue to try to put the frustration of the past behind me and look to the future. To hoping that my first year experiences will not be repeating and that when I do have a full-time position, my excitement and love for what I do will surpass any negativity that I may face.

Grade Eight Teacher, Group Moderator, Facilitator/teacher arts@newman

Teacher Voice

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Hi Ashley et al,

I've been following these comments with interest. One thing that comes to mind after reading Ashley's last post was that we seem to have lost that sense of individual creativity in many corners of this profession. This has been replaced with talk about "best" practice, common strategies and the like.

As teachers, we bring our professional knowledge, common sense and teacher intuition to every moment in the classroom. Those who judge us often do so from a distance, making brief visits to our classroom, sometimes even just passing by the door and making judgments about what is going on inside.

This helps with the "accountability" and "surveillance" piece--so much a part of schools today, but it does absolutely nothing to help teachers--beginning and veteran--grow as dynamic and creative professionals.

Our teaching practice must be viewed in full context. So, as I tell my administrators, "Come and spend a couple of hours, not a couple of minutes." This hasn't happened in a long time!

Stephen

Substitute

Agreed

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My thoughts exactly, Stephen. It's a shame that administrators can't take at least a half of a day out to spend in our classrooms to truly get a better picture as to how we run our classrooms. I was supposed to be evaluated three times in my first year (even though I was in long-term substitute positions), and only received two formal evaluations, but was only ever "observed" twice in my second long-term assignment. Once, was during a reading block for about 5 minutes, and the other was a "walk through" where the administrator peeked a head in my door during a transition in Guided Reading. I posted before about this in another forum on here I think - about how intense and LONG the reading blocks were, and how I didn't mind if, during a few transitions, my second graders at the time would talk on their way to their new designated spot or assignment, as long as they were ready to go when I was ready. This however, was not acceptable to my administrator. So, as you said, it seems as though the biased opinions sometimes get in the way of making fair judgements on teachers, old and new. It's a shame that the result of this is teachers that feel like they are walking on egg shells, never knowing what's right or wrong to someone else; even if they are comfortable and happy with what's going on in their rooms.

French teacher

I can relate to all that has

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I can relate to all that has been said. As a first year teacher, I have times when I feel frustrated. Things do not always work out the way I expected them to, and I can see that I have a lot to improve regarding class management.
I haven't had any observations this year, as the teachers' evaluation system is not in place yet in our school. I missed a lot having someone coming my class, to spend as you said not a few minutes but a whole period to be able to help me figure out what had worked well and what had not and how I could improve. I have learned quite a few things since I joined a great community of educators on Twitter. I am also looking for summer professional development classes to continue learning.

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