Sunday, August 26, 2012

Finding My Way

I love teaching first graders. Even the challenging parts. I'm learning more and more each day. And...many days...I worry and stress that I'm not doing it right. My biggest worry - my kids won't be learning anything.

I have a great team of fellow first grade teachers. They have been absolutely wonderful. They are giving and helpful. They listen and offer advice. They let me peek at what they are planning. They even don't mind if I stalk their rooms from time to time.

I've incorporated some of their ideas into my classroom. I've picked up a few things from the great substitute teacher I had working with me at the beginning of the year (until all my paperwork made me "official").

But I've learned something valuable along the (short) way I've come. I cannot be a teacher like someone else. I cannot be a first grade teacher like the others in my school. I must be a first grade teacher as myself. "Mr. Scott" must be a part of "Mr. Wiley" or I'm going to struggle even more.

So...this week we used Uno cards to put 3 numbers in order from least to greatest. We bounced a beach ball around as we counted to 50. (Well, we only made it to 27 before I had to stop it. We need to practice bouncing the ball gently.) Sometimes, we went to centers with little or no big goal in mind. (Probably most of the time.) We just needed to spend some time interacting and exploring. Sometimes I listen to long stories that only have the outcome of developing skills in expressing ideas.

As I continue through this year, I'm going to make mistakes. I'm going to try things that don't work - my own ideas and the ideas of others.

But I've decided that I cannot be someone else's idea of a first grade teacher. And I cannot be a first grade teacher as I interpret it from someone else's classroom. I must be myself first - myself as a first grade teacher. That's the way I'm going to be a good first grade teacher.

This will be my mantra for this year: Take what works and discard the rest. I'll find my way. And, hopefully, the first graders will gain some knowledge. (And have a little fun, too.)


  1. Aww you'll be great, you are lucky to have other 1st grade teachers to seek advice from, many teachers here don't have a co-worker in the same class/grade. I just think you will be fab & the children are very lucky to have you - enjoy your first term, Scott. Kierna

  2. Scott, you've made that realization and you have an open mind about trying new things as you go, so you're ahead of the game! Those first graders are so lucky to have a fantastic, reflective teacher facilitating their learning this year!

    1. Thank you for this post! This is what I am going through right now as I moved from teaching 4 year olds in a child care setting to teaching in a school district. The other teachers have been outstanding and very helpful, but I'm still trying to find my place between what they have been doing while still incorporating what I have done and who I am.

  3. That is an excellent mantra!