I’m starting my fourth year in teaching now and it’s going really well already. I can tell what a difference experience makes. Every year so far continues to be leaps and bounds above the last because I keep learning so much as a teacher. It’s a nice feeling when I can recognize the growth taking place. I think that the first three years of teaching are all just for practical experience so that teachers can make mistakes through the myriad of scenarios that pop up in the classroom on a day-to-day basis. I can finally tell that I am being a thoughtful teacher who plans meaningful lessons and is able to communicate his objectives to the students. The basics of teaching, which seem so simple when you learn them in college, are actually quite difficult to master. And I can recognize and appreciate this now from the viewpoint of a teacher who understands what he’s doing.
At the end of last year I painted my classroom. I did a complete overhaul in fact just to organize things differently and redo my classroom decorations. I have a much greater appreciation of utilizing the classroom space effectively for instruction and it already shows. It’s amazing the different those small details can make, and yet these are the details that only someone who has experience teaching has the time to focus on and utilize effectively.
Overall, the first two weeks have gone much more smoothly than in the past and I know that I understand how to “train” my students to my rules and expectations which makes a huge difference. I also know how I can gain their trust and get them accustomed to my teaching style. What a difference this makes in preserving my sanity!
I have the experience to know how students respond to certain activities, what misunderstandings might pop up, how to deliver effective instructions, and how to optimize the work that my students turn in. It’s a feeling of great accomplishment now when my students produce excellent work because I took the time to sort out all of the details and instructions beforehand. Already in the first two weeks I have had the foresight to plan scaffolding and proper distribution of tasks so that students felt successful and I got the results I wanted.
I’m looking forward to an excellent year. This is the first year since I started teaching that I have no new curriculum preparation. It gives me the chance to focus on revising what I’ve already taught and further enhance my instruction in that content. It’s been a huge advantage in creating a better classroom environment, because I now fully understand what my professors meant when they said a good lesson is all you need to run the classroom. There are many more days that I leave the classroom and feel accomplished as a teacher because I executed a good lesson that engaged students and clearly conveyed the learning goal. It’s a great feeling.
Outside of my own classroom, there are other changes taking place in education that affect my teaching. We had a presentation on Missouri’s new teacher evaluation process to start off the year. I have to say I am excited for the new method because it integrates more observation as well as teachers setting goals and submitting artifacts that demonstrate their work toward those goals. It has already pushed me to think critically about my teaching and made me feel more like the growing professional that I am. I have some doubts about its implementation, but I’m interested to see the results after this initial year. It’s a step in the right direction, despite the critics out there who think it’s just more work on teachers.
Year four has brought some exciting changes and has also started off a great note for me. I look back to my first year of teaching and am so happy for the progress I’ve made. I remember how difficult the first year was adjusting to adult life in general along and now I feel confident with what I’m doing every day. It’s going to be a great fourth year.