Someone told me once that the first year of teaching is always the hardest.
How I see it, I’ve had two “first years.” Once, four years ago, in Fort Wayne, when I student taught for the first semester and then took over English 10 and Grade 9 Honors for the second semester. Then again, last year, when I moved to Tanzania and started teaching at HOPAC.
The funny thing is, every year seems harder than the one before.
This year, I am not learning a new system (Cambridge) or designing all-new curriculum for multiple grade levels. But I still feel like a failure sometimes.
Days like yesterday when what seemed like a good lesson completely flops, when the power goes out mid-lesson, rendering that tech-based lesson useless, or when “use this time to write” turns to chaos.
I ask questions.
Am I teaching the students everything they need to know in order to succeed?
Am I presenting the material in a way that students can understand it?
Am I giving appropriate and helpful feedback?
Am I engaging students and creating a space for them to inquire and ask questions?
Am I helping students to gain the skills needed to analyze literature now (and later in life)?
Sometimes I’m not sure.
But there are other days when inconsistent power, no internet, and sauna-esque classrooms don’t matter. Days when everything comes together, when students enthusiastically create a graphic genealogy from the novel, when a question about a word’s meaning leads to new insights on connotation and its role in analyzing literature, or when students lead meaningful discussions about a text’s influence on society.
The IGCSE Literature class this morning suffered through yet another day without power, classroom temperatures well over 91F/33C, and still showed incredible focus and diligence as they worked in groups to identify themes in “The Tempest.”
Despite the emotional roller coaster it sometimes creates, I’m pretty confident that teaching is the perfect profession for me, because I know I will never get bored with it. There will always be room for improvement, there will always be something new to learn or implement in the classroom to improve my teaching. Oh, and if you think working with high schoolers (or primary or middle school students) is boring, come visit my classroom sometime…. =D