Sun, Oct. 2, 2005
I felt inclined to write this post after my last one about a week ago, because I wanted to give a full, well-rounded portrait of what my first year has been like so far. So often, when writings are reactionary (which seems to be the entire backbone of the blog genre), readers are left on their own to connect the dots…”So, yeah, she feels that her work is NEVER valued and teaching is ALWAYS wearing her down…”

I in no way feel that now or in an ironic way, I never felt that way even as I was writing that last journal entry that I posted here. I shared some thoughts that have been swirling in my mind for years now - even before I was a fulltime, classroom teacher.

I want to just underscore here that what seems to be the absolute foundation of a not-so-traumatic first year teaching assignment is a consistent and experienced support team. I feel fortunate that I have one at my school. The other week, my principal called my classroom right before homeroom and asked me what period I had free. She wanted me to come to her office so we could “discuss how to put together a support system for you this year.”

I didn’t know quite what that meant. I was glad that I would be getting a “support system,” mind you, but was still a bit unsure of what that would call for from me and whoever else was involved. Basically, this wise woman, who had spent her first year of teaching “crying every damn day,” had assigned the two principals-in-training in our school to me. Since both their backgrounds were in English, she thought they should meet with me every Friday and help me with planning the next week. She insisted that I observe the 7th grade English teacher’s classroom and “steal whatever ideas you see working.” To make this observation challenge easier, the aspiring principals gladly offered to cover my class while I sat in on another’s to ensure that my prep period was actually spent prepping.

I have already met with my support team once and thanks to them I know EXACTLY what I will be doing until November. I will have them in the class when I begin the students on a persuasive essay. The high school English teachers have offered to help me grade these first set of essays as I freely admitted in our first full staff meeting that I feel rather inadequate at assessing writing since what makes writing “good” seems to be highly subjective.

Starting out a new profession is difficult no matter what the field. It is especially diffucult in a profession like k -12 education, where teachers seem to work in complete isolation more often than not. I heard this all the time in my teacher-ed program, but I would still encourage any new teacher who is reading these words to do it, anyway: FIND A SUPPORT SYSTEM. While we all aren’t fortunate enough to have an administration that builds this support into the school culture, it will only help you if you go that extra mile to find it yourself. I can not tell you how much less my heart raced this weekend as I was writing my lesson plans for this week simply because I had the input of two women who had a combined ten years of experience teaching.