Thursday, September 22, 2011

make your mark

     Just a quick post today -- papers and assignments keep piling up. Just when I'm sighing with relief about finishing one project, I've got two more needing urgent attention.
     While it's tropically toasty outside, it's frosty cold in the bowels of the library (where all my classes are held). Halfway into class I actually put on a second jacket because the cardigan wasn't warm enough.

     It's interesting that I haven't worn this cardigan more. However, I clearly remember the first time I wore it. It was the first day of my first year as a classroom teacher. It was also the first day I had taught in a classroom for a whole day. I was woefully unprepared, and that year ... it's hard to find enough words to describe that year. I felt overwhelmed, unappreciated, and incompetent. It was frustrating to try so hard and work so hard and still fail. That year taught me that failure is hard work. (A good thing to keep in mind with those students seen as unreachable or uncaring).
    I finished that first year emotionally exhausted. Despite some trepidation, I devoted much of the summer to reflecting on what I wanted my next classroom to look like. I took copious notes on the procedures and routines that happen everyday --  things that may sound trivial, such as how students should move from their desks to the floor for story time. I was scared, but determined. I jokingly call msyelf an expert on how not to run a classroom, and I used my expertise to figure out a different way.
     That second year in the classroom was AMAZING. Yes, I had my share of kinks to work out and failures. I still have so much to learn about building a safe, positive classroom for all learners, about differentiating lessons so everyone can learn, and thousands of other things. But the improvements I saw were undeniable. I believed that all that attention to detail made the students feel safe and that I was looking out for them. This allowed both me and the students to focus on learning and teaching and building relationships.
     It was hard to choose to leave the classroom to focus on attaining my library sciences degree. I wondered whether I was cutting myself off from more deep learning. I had never wanted to be a classroom teacher, but the second year showed me why so many teachers return, year after year. But being an elementary school librarian is my dream job, and it was time to commit and go full-time.
    And you thought this was just a quickie outfit post ...

   Do you have clothing/accessories/jewelry that evokes memories or stories? I'd love to hear your story, either as a comment or as a post on your own blog!


  1. I'd love to know some of the things you did to make your second year better. Teaching is such hard work. This post was beautiful. I especially feel for students who have a hard time. Failure is hard work.

  2. I love your outfit Carrie, and this post! A lot of my family members are teachers (including my mom), so I can completely relate, as I have heard all about their teaching experiences over the years (and grew up helping my mom decorate her elementary school classroom each year & grade papers, lol). I am really happy that you are following your dream to become an elementary school librarian! I love to read and that was something I actually thought about doing at one time, but I ended up with a job in medical sales. Also, I have lots of clothes that I associate with different memories. One that stands out is the outfit I wore on my first date with my husband :.

  3. @Courtney - I found Wong's "First Days of School" book to be extremely helpful in guiding my thinking. I also tried harder to create a classroom culture - I posted a culturally relevant acronym representing key qualities I wanted to foster. I also did "Stars of the Week." Throughout the week I would write short thank-you notes to students I noticed doing something positive and keep them in my desk. I would read and pass them out on Friday before the bell rang and the students really loved it.

  4. @Jade - I think first-date outfits deserve their own post! :) I think I wore one of the plainest outfits ever on the first date with my boyfriend.


Thanks for stopping by my blog! I love comments, so please leave one if you like. :)