The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 05 2012

Day 1: A New Feeling

I’ve spent the last few weeks absolutely terrified of Year 2. Everyone seemed to be telling me that Year 2 was so much easier, and I figured that had to be because I had so many materials already created. Back in June, I envisioned walking into Room 105 in late August stocked with lesson plans and graphic organizers and parent contact trackers – a second-year teacher’s dream cornucopia.

Then grad school happened. Then trying to relax and get in shape happened. Then failing to get in shape and breaking my right elbow and wrist happened. Fast forward a few weeks, and while I had a vague sense of what I was going to do with my classroom and my first week of school, I really didn’t feel much better off than I had been this time last year.

Fortunately, today proved me completely wrong. As it turns out, over the course of a year of teaching, at some point, I learned how to act like a teacher. I knew how to chat up kids on the first day. I knew how to make the right relationships. I knew when to demand silence. I knew to wait for 100 percent, and not to call anything perfect unless it really was perfect. I knew not to keep speaking when a student was interrupting. I knew that I could hold my kids to high behavioral expectations while still making it perfectly clear that I respected them and was glad to have them in my classroom.

I was asking for eyes, waiting for all of them, and getting all of them. I was asking for students to freeze, waiting for no movement, and seeing students give me their full attention. My students were explaining over and over again that this was how they showed respect, both for me as their teacher, and for themselves, since they were acting like the professionals and leaders I kept telling them they could be.

And, despite using the word “procedure” about 59 times, my kids apparently had fun. Afterschool, one student told me she had had a good day, and when I asked why, she told me, “You’re not like other teachers. You’re not boring.” Might have been the fact that I sang part of Demi Lovato’s “Give Your Heart a Break” during the hopes and dreams lesson. But hey, if it means I can teach and reinforce efficient procedures? I’ll take it.

I’ve got a lot more work to do. But I’m starting to get the sense Year 2 will, yes, be pretty different from Year 1.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

Greater Boston
Middle School

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