My journey as a Teach For America corps member thus far has been both exciting and nerve-wracking. As I reflect on my first year as an educator, I am filled with mixed emotions. This year has been transformative, filled with challenges, growth, and rewarding experiences. I have some reflections and insights from my first year of teaching I wish to share with you.
Embracing the Challenges:
It is well known that teaching is not an easy task, and my first year was no exception. As I navigated my first year in the classroom, I was faced with numerous challenges, from creating an equitable learning environment to making engaging lesson plans that reached all of my students. However, through these challenges, I have discovered just how resilient I am. I have learned that embracing challenges is easier with backup. Seeking support does not indicate weakness, on the contrary, being able to ask for help is beneficial to both myself and my students. Together, we have navigated through the highs and lows of teaching, finding innovative approaches to overcome challenges.
Building meaningful relationships with my students, their families, as well as the broader community was an essential part of my first year as a teacher. I realized that understanding my students’ backgrounds, cultures, and unique experiences allowed me to be a teacher and support their learning. By fostering an inclusive environment in the classroom, my students and I have created a space where we felt safe to take academic risks, push each other’s thinking in respectful ways, and grow academically, emotionally, and socially.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my first year as an educator was witnessing my student’s growth and being able to be part of that development. Every day, I saw their growth, both inside and outside of the classroom. From the shy student who found their voice in the classroom to the English Language Learner who mastered subject-verb agreement, these victories for my students made all of the time and hard work worth it. Knowing that I was fortunate enough to spend time with and help impact my students’ learning and development is the reason I am a teacher and continue to find joy in my job.
Every day I walk into work knowing that I will learn something from my colleagues and I will learn something from my students. Through the other educators I have had the pleasure to work with, I have learned new strategies and ways to expand my knowledge and perfect my practice. Constructive feedback has become something I crave because I know that is how I continue to improve for my students. I learn so much from my students all of the time. From the newest tik tok dance, to how to say different words and phrases in their home language, my students come to the classroom with a well of knowledge and willingness to share that I wish to emulate. My new knowledge and open-mindedness to learning allow me to adjust my practice to reach the individual needs of my students.
As I reflect on my first year of teaching, I am filled with gratitude for the experiences, challenges, and growth teaching has brought into my life. While there have been many moments of doubt, the efforts of dedicated teachers and the strength of my students have inspired me to continue in this work. As I prepare to enter into my second year of teaching, I am excited to use the lessons I have learned and do it all again, but even better.