An EFL teacher discovering the whole new universe :)

March 24, 2006

Surviving the first year

This school year is my last year at university and a first year of teaching. I must admit that I do feel something really important happening in my life, while I'm leaving the student years behind and entering the world of Miss Bezic :)
I teach EFL in a primary school and most of the time I feel really good there. I could even say that every day is getting better and better. I am less and less stressed and much more ready to improvise. By that I mean that, contrary to my first weeks, I give more power to pupils and let them tailor our lessons a bit. Consequently they've started enjoying more and learning better, and we all spend more quality time together. Every day something happens that brightens my day - a nice word, gesture, a funny situation. I'm slowly getting to consider my students as individuals and I'm becoming more and more sincerely interested in them. I know that theoretically this is how it should be, but I simply couldn't do that in the first weeks... I didn't have so much time for them, having been occupied with myself so much. Now I listen better, I talk less. I like them more and more, each one of them has become dear to me, in one way or another. I have become more concerned, supportive and positive. After six months of teaching I'm also more confident. And after two months of blogging I'm ready to admit that:)
All this meditation came about thanks to James Matthew's link . I came across the blog post on the experiences of novice teachers and the hard time someone has when starting teaching. Christian wrote a nice post entitled Surviving year one in the classroom without sabotaging the future
Among his other very interesting thoughts and citations, I found this interesting:
I've always felt -- once I got my feet under myself after that first teaching year -- that the absolute 'survival' experience of a first year teacher is what becomes the DNA for all the years that follow. In other words, the survival skills one learns to make it through those scary and paradoxical first 9 months become the ground you stand on in the next few years, and then when the fear goes away, the same skills become a world view and a rationalization and a way of drawing lines in the sand. So, even the most experienced educator on the planet is still in some way re-copying (or mimeo-graphing) those early skills that so often become unconscious, and they simply get better and better at explaining the continued use over time.

As a first year teacher I'm not really in the position to agree or disagree with him, but I do know that I do feel the importance of this first year. As a motto of my first teaching endeavors I took a saying by C. Robert:
"Kids don't care how much we know, until they know how much we care."

Something in this direction I also found in Christian's blog, once sb said to him:
But when in doubt, when confused or angry, when lost, simply love the kids. And remember you made an informed decision to teach. And stop trying to figure it all out the first day. Love will take you where you're capable of going. When you're ready. And truth of truths, if your ultimate goal is to see your kids learn and grow and achieve great things, this is where you'll find them doing it, when you love them enough to believe they can accomplish anything no matter how hard the challenge.

After reading Christian's post and thinking about my personal experiences that are - especially this first year - so valuable, I've decided to start posting a bit about my days in school. Sorry, not about days. About people.
Why would I let it all go by? Why not catch those special moments? You-don't-get-a second-chance-to-be-a-first-year-teacher :)
I hope you won't unsubscribe from my blog if I get more personal:)
Sunny greetings from Slovenia!


Blogger Claudia Bellusci said...

You're right, Anita. Fortunately the inicial fright soon vanishes and we feel more confident to take care of what we should: our students. School life is not easy, let alone nowadays. Unluckily there is too much violence in the outside world that infects what should always be a safe environment. A piece of advice that I'd give you as and "old" teacher is: never let your personal problems into the school. I've gone through hard times myself but nobody could tell. This way I enjoyed being at school and forgot about my troubles. And another tip: make friends at school. It's so nice to work in the same place with your friends! And never never think you know it all. Show your students that you're also a learner. Then you will be a mirror for them and they will see the marvel of curiosity and constant discovery. And lastly, whatever you do HAVE FUN!
I wish you the best in your teaching career.

25/3/06 9:53 pm

Anonymous Christian Long said...

Anita, I'm humbled and most appreciative that you took time to make the connection between my "think:lab" ( post re: the first-year teacher experience. Go to the "Reflective Teacher" blog when you have time; he's a 1st year teacher really pushing hard to 'get it' and his blog is one of the better ones out there from 'inside the classroom'. I do hope we'll continue to cross paths over time, blog to blog. Feel free to touch base at christianlong2000[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]com -- in the meantime, NEVER hesitate to write about the personal, life of a teacher side of your life. 'Facts' aside, blogs thrive when people show not just their expertise/ideas, but also their real self. Makes the computer far more dynamic. Again, thank you -- Cheers, Christian

28/3/06 12:49 am

Blogger anitanita said...

Dear Maria Claudia, thank you so much for your precious pieces of advice. And Christian, I am sure our paths will continue to cross, as you nicely stated it "blog to blog".

16/5/06 11:57 pm


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home