First Day Jitters!

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This weeks post is a series of questions I found online about the first day of school. Students are not the only ones who are excited and nervous about the first day, the teachers are too! Answering these questions inspired me to reflect on my own first day of teaching which is in a few weeks. I am a 6th grade literature teacher and this is my 8th year teaching but my 3rd year in middle school. I am very excited about this year because I feel as though I am ready to conquer middle school. Below I have answered the questions to the tag so that I can share my experience for the first day of school. Enjoy!

1) Did you pick out your first day of school outfit?

I did not have to pick out an outfit because the staff always begins the school year in uniform with a school-wide t-shirt. This year we will wear a charcoal brownish tan color with purple letters with our school name on it along with black bottoms. I will wear some black dress pants and some purple Sketchers. 

2) What are you looking forward to the most in regards to the upcoming school year?

This year I am teaching gifted classes and I am very excited to embark on this new journey. My district is starting a new gifted program with self-contained classrooms instead of pull out. Teachers had to interview for the position and I was chosen at the end of last school year. After a four-day training over the summer and certification standards met I feel like I am highly qualified to teach these students. I am ready to intrigue these future Einsteins. 

3) What are you most nervous about in regards of the upcoming school year?

I guess what I am most excited about, teaching a gifted class, is also what I am most nervous about as well. Although I feel like I am prepared it is still going to be a challenge. The students that I will be working with have tested into this program through an assessment, teacher recommendation and GPA. Therefore, they have high expectations and so do their parents. I have no doubt in my mind that I can exceed these standards; I just need to work extra hard to make sure they are learning and most importantly growing. Every teacher knows that the students that are at the top of the data charts are typically the ones that are harder to grow. I have always been successful with making sure my students were proficient and meeting growth targets. This year is a new challenge I am looking forward to!

4) What is one area or thing you would like to improve upon this year?

One area I would like to improve upon is time management. In the past I have overwhelmed myself into thinking I needed to get everything on my “To Do” list done that day! This only led me to stress and feeling defeated. After six years of teaching I now know that it is impossible to finish everything in a day! A teacher’s job is never done so it is fine to leave things for the next day. This year I plan on writing down my top three goals each day and other tasks beneath it. The three goals will be the things that I NEED to complete before I leave that day and the other tasks are things that can wait if I don’t get to them. This strategy will minimize stress and will make my to do list attainable. 

5) Do you feel prepared for the first day of school?

Yes, I am prepared. We stay with our home rooms the first day of school. So, we will mostly go over school-wide procedures and expectations. I will also do several getting to know you activities with my students.

6) What will you miss most about the summer?

I will miss the flexibility I have during the day to be productive in the mornings and then by noon creating time to play. This typically included doing something fun with my kids. 

7) How do you plan to improve your work/life balance this year?

One of the ways I will improve work/life balance is the top three goals for the day at work, which I mentioned above. By doing this it will also guarantee that I don’t bring any work home. When I am at home that is the time for me to unwind and focus on my family. This year I plan on focusing on home at home and focusing on work at work! That way there will always be a balance. 

8) What is the biggest challenge that comes with the start of the school year?

The biggest challenge to me, next to memorizing 100 students names, is teaching the routines of the classroom. I do not like this part of teaching but I know that it is necessary. I am so excited about teaching and doing that I just want to dive right into the content, rotations and strategy groups but I can’t. There is a process and I have to teach it to each of my classes.

I learned that jumping into things without teaching students the proper way to do it will only set myself up for failure later on. So, taking the time to reiterate classroom expectations daily for the first month of school takes energy, teaching students how to work in groups and switch rotations takes time. I am prepared to do this just knowing that it will pay off in a couple of months when my classroom will run itself because I took the time to teach my students how to do that. 

9) Did you work hard or play hard this summer?

To be honest, outside of the four professional development days for the gifted certification and assignments, I didn’t do any work. There were a few days where I got inspired to create a map of my classroom and schedule out my reading workshop model this year. Other than that I watched YouTube videos, edited my novel, organized several fun days with my kids, went to yoga, swim lessons and relaxed. I saved all my energy for the school year and I think I am more motivated because I did take the time for myself. 

10) Are you a new teacher or an experienced teacher?

I would consider myself a new teacher to middle school but overall an experienced teacher to the profession. Either way I am a lifelong learner. The education field is continually changing. Therefore, I will adapt along with it so I will always be learning something new and growing. 

I hope you enjoyed this fun post! If you found it interesting please comment below. If you are a teacher yourself then feel free to answer some the questions below. We would love to hear from you!

Zsnel