Is School Fun?
You might be wondering why I would ask such a question. With the beginning of the school year approaching, I began reminiscing about my first year of teaching. Although it was over twenty years ago, I can remember it very vividly.
My class was created two weeks after school began. My principal, at the time, wanted to make sure that there were enough students to create a new class before he officially hired me. I was so excited when he confirmed that I would become a second grade teacher. I was ready (or so I thought) to conquer the teaching world.
On the Friday before I would officially begin, select students were pulled from their second grade classrooms. They were informed that on Monday I would become their new teacher. Scared, sad, and confused were just some of the emotions that were displayed from those innocent faces. I wanted to make them feel comfortable with this new announcement and excitedly stated, “School will be so much fun this year.” Those simple words would eventually haunt me for the remainder of the year.
In a nutshell, what occurred was simple. As I assigned classwork and homework assignments students would immediately raise their hands. When called upon they would simply state, “You said school would be fun. This is not fun.” With those words, I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I quickly learned that children are much smarter than I ever realized. They also have the ability to speak their minds honestly and openly.
As the year continued, I realized that teaching was not an easy profession. I was challenged in every way possible. When I graduated from college, I felt like I was ready and completely prepared. I was so young and naive. As a new teacher, I wanted school to be fun. I created bulletin boards that would excite students. I was so proud of my reading corner. I created a comfy place for children to enjoy literature. I stayed after school everyday for several hours trying to prepare my lessons for the following day. On paper, it looked perfect. In reality, not so much. I was missing the key ingredient to a fun class, classroom management. I wanted to please the students so much that I was often inconsistent with my discipline plan. I let the students control the situation instead of me. I learned very quickly that in order for my class to be viewed as fun, I needed to reflect on my teaching practices and improve in the area of classroom management.
It was a very trying year. I cried everyday and often questioned my decision to become a teacher. My father would often call and remind me that tomorrow was a new day. He tried to keep me afloat when I definitely felt like I was sinking. Somehow I mustered up the strength to return to my classroom and get through the day. Somehow I survived.
My experiences my first year helped me become the teacher I am today. I learned the importance of classroom management. I learned that the way I perceived myself was very different from the eyes of my students. Social media is amazing. Over the past years, I have been contacted through Facebook and reconnected to students who I have previously taught. Scott, a student in that first class I ever taught, shared his thoughts about me. I was amazed by his kind words, “In one way or another all of my teachers through the years have had an impact on my life, however, there are a select few that really hold a special place in my heart and you are on top of that list! Thank you for being so memorable!” I often think back to that class and the struggles of a first year teacher. Scott has inspired me to realize that even when I lacked the experiences of teaching, the students were viewing me as a role model. The impact teachers have on children is priceless.
In the comments below I would love to hear your thoughts about your first year. Is school fun?