Yesterday I got to talking about my first year of teaching with a group of colleagues, relaying funny stories and challenging experiences. As I was sharing I realized I was mostly looking back on that year with fondness. It is pretty interesting that the most challenging year of my career is one I look back on and actually miss a little.
In that first year I didn’t know what I didn’t know. That’s probably a good thing because I am sure I messed up (plenty!).
The desks were in lines. I never had a good system for switching content areas. I never taught in small groups. I gave ridiculous homework. I consistently “lost” one student in the classroom as she curled up to read a book in some corner or cubby. I taught from the text book. I never integrated across disciplines. I used a red pen (cringe!).
But, I taught my kids all about Lemony Snicket. I made chocolate with them. I taught them how to count out change at a store. We read the newspaper, almost every day. During reading time, we all read together, me with a novel in hand. We used objects as learning tools. I ate lunch with them and went to P.E. with them. We sang together.
We learned together and what I took from them in that first year and the following year at another urban school has stayed with me for 15 years. Those first two years of teaching are the years I remember most fondly, the years that have influenced every decision and path my career has taken since then.