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Tales From A First Year Teacher: My First Day As A Real Teacher

Continued from Tales From A First Year Teacher: Will I Ever Get A Job?

What the…..are you for real…..this can’t be right can it…..is this where I’m meant to spend the whole year…..I can feel my whole world crashing down around me…..This wasn’t part of the picture I had painted in my head…..

This isn’t a classroom; this is a ‘fibro shack’ in the middle of nowhere.  I can’t be expected to teach in this can I?  Maybe it will be better on the inside…..

first classroom
The ‘fibro shack’

I looked at the other teacher who had a look of real pity on her face; this just said it all really.  She wished me luck; I was now on my own!  I sucked in a deep breath and prepared to start my first day as a fully-fledged teacher.

I was actually shaking in my shoes as I walked up those dodgy looking stairs into my room.  Okay, here goes.

Alright so I need to deal with this, it isn’t any better on the inside.  I mean look at the blackboard and whiteboard, it looks like something out of the 1970s.

inside classroom
Inside the ‘fibro shack’

I suppose it’s not the end of the world is it?  I can work with this!  I don’t have time to wallow in self-pity I need to start getting organised.  I’m sure it won’t be long until the students begin to arrive.

So I had my class list with me and quickly scanned it while trying to work out what to do first.  I had 11 year 4 students and 17 year 5 students.  Mmmm 28 students, that’s not too bad.

I spent the next hour rearranging desks, unpacking some of my resources and setting up my desk.  I wandered over to find the photocopier as I had a couple of things that needed copying for the lessons today.  I also had to find some other resources for the day including paper and workbooks for the students to write in.

It looks like students are beginning to arrive, so I hurry back to my classroom.  Phew none of my students are there yet.  I unpack my goodies, write a welcome message on the blackboard and then head out the front of my class to meet and greet my students.

I don’t really remember too much of what happens next.  There is a flurry of kids and their parents and lots of chatter.  I tried to greet every one of my students with a smile, handshake and an introduction of my name and also ask their name. As I meet the students I ask them to choose any desk to sit at to begin with.

Well this is it, the bell has rung and I have my class sitting on the mat all looking at me so expectantly.  I decide for this first part of the day that we should sit in a circle so we all rearrange ourselves.  Okay, so far so good…..

So I can get to know my student’s names I decided to start the day with the name game.  Each student needs to think of an adjective that begins with the same letter as their first name.  We have a discussion about what an adjective is and I provide the first example.  “Hello everyone, my name is Marvellous Miss Crean, nice to meet you”.  We head around the circle with students introducing themselves.  A few were stuck and couldn’t think of a word so the class helped them out.

Then the strangest thing happened….one of the students decided to just start crawling around.  He crawled in the middle of the circle and then crawled up to me, nudging the student next to me out of the way and sat next to me.  As yet we hadn’t got to this particular student, so I asked his name and we found an adjective to use with his name. Okay, this was a bit weird; I think I may need to watch this student a bit.

So how did the rest of the morning go?  Well it kind of went downhill from that point.  The crawling student, who I will call Ben, pretty much kept me on my toes.  Some of the behaviours I witnessed that morning included:

  • Crawling around barking like a dog;
  • Walking on the desk tops;
  • Hiding in the cupboard under the blackboard.  Not an easy task when you look at the size of those cupboards;
  • Poking and yelling at other students and;
  • Finally disappearing from the room not to return for the rest of the day.  I had to send a student to the office to say that I had lost a student and it wasn’t even the morning break yet!

I’m sure there were other things, but I honestly can’t remember everything that happened that morning.  What was most surprising to me was that the other students didn’t seem to either notice or mind what was going on.  They just said things like, “Don’t worry about it Miss Crean that’s what Ben is like” and “Ben always just comes and goes from class as he pleases”.

Finally recess time has arrived and I head back over to the staff room to see how the other teachers went.  A couple of the other new teachers said they had a good morning and their classes seemed really nice.  I describe some of the events of my morning and again those looks of pity return.  One of the experienced teachers informs me that I should meet with either the Principal or Deputy Principal to discuss some of my students.  That definitely sounds a bit ominous.

Surprisingly the remainder of the day went quite smoothly (maybe because Ben wasn’t there!). I actually relaxed a bit and started to enjoy myself.  I even got a chance to read through some of the letters that students wrote me.  I thought that this would be a really good way to find out a little bit about my students, while also collecting a sample of their writing to see where they’re at.  The letter I wrote to my students is here: letter to students

I managed to catch up with the Principal after school to discuss some of my students.  As you can imagine we mainly spoke about Ben.  It’s actually quite sad hearing the story of this student.  It did help me to realise that some kids have so much hardship that they need to get through, even before they walk into my classroom.  I will definitely need to pull out all of my books, resources and notes from Uni to try and help me work out the best way to assist Ben.

I spent the afternoon in my classroom getting organised for the next day.  I also managed to plan in some other lessons for the rest of the week.  I can’t wait until my computer gets here with all of my things; it will make planning so much easier.

It wasn’t until after 5pm that I got back to the motel.  Here’s a picture of where I’m staying.  As you can see there are not many trees around and it does look a bit lacklustre.  At least its air conditioned, cleaned every day and nice food is available.

motel
My temporary accommodation

I met some of the other teachers for dinner in the dining room and we had a good debrief about our days.  We all looked really exhausted but all agreed to meet again at 6am the next morning.

I was completely shattered, who would have thought that this teaching caper would make me so tired.  I phoned my boyfriend and had a good chat about my day.  He was doing a great job with organising all of our furniture and it was due to be picked up on Wednesday, that gave him a few days to organise cleaning of the house before flying up here to meet me.

I managed to do a bit more planning, watch a bit of television and finally I fell asleep before 9:30pm.

Arghh, what’s that noise?  Oh, it’s just the alarm going….groan it’s so early in the morning.  I drag myself out of bed and prepare to face Day 2 as a teacher.

Stay tuned for the next instalment: Tales From A First Year Teacher: Surviving The First Week of Term

Other Articles in This Series:
Tales From A First Year Teacher: Will I Ever Get A Job?
Tales From A First Year Teacher: Surviving The First Week Of Term

Tales From A First Year Teacher: Adpating To Life In The Pilbara
Tales From A First Year Teacher: Learning Social Skills

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13 Responses to Tales From A First Year Teacher: My First Day As A Real Teacher

  1. I have just subscribed to your blog. I truly enjoyed reading your collection of quotes as well as your first year experiences. I was recently nominated for a Liebster award, so I went searching for other newbies. That led me to you. I realize you have already been nominated, so I will continue my search. I hope you will visit me at Getting to the Core in Third Grade when you have a moment. Happy Teaching and Blogging!

    • Hi Kelly,

      Thanks so much for being here :-D. I’m glad that you enjoyed reading about my first year of teaching! Good luck with your blog; I’ll be sure to check it out!

  2. […] Melinda has experience teaching in Port Hedland and Karratha in Western Australia. Most of her posts are not remote related, however her candid reflections of her first teaching post provide an insight for teachers who are new to remote WA. I have included her on this list as while her blog is not remote orientated, she has been remote. Her blog has lots of general interesting hints and tips. http://topnotchteaching.com/personal/first-day-as-a-real-teacher/ […]

  3. […] Formal contracts are a more intrusive intervention for behaviour management.  I have used contracts a number of times over the years with varying degrees of success.  I first tried this in my first year of teaching with a student named Ben.  You can read more about some of Ben’s behaviours in this post: Tales From A First Year Teacher: My First Day As A Real Teacher. […]

  4. Hi Melinda,

    Your recount of your first teaching experiences make me smile. I have no doubt that you are an extraordinary teacher, and you are going to be an extraordinary mentor. And like Michelle, I look forward to the next ”instalment”.

    • Hi Grace,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. Recounting my first year of teaching is also making me smile, although at the time some days were extremely difficult 😉 I’m glad you’re looking forward to the next instalment!

  5. Hello Melinda. I’m very much enjoying your teacher tales. I look forward to hearing more about your teaching adventures.

    • Hi Michelle,

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment and I’m glad you’re enjoying my tales. It feels good writing about my first year of teaching and sharing the ups and downs of that first year as a ‘bona fide’ teacher 🙂

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