Experiences of a First Year Teacher

Teaching in a Junior High School can be a highly rewarding, exciting, yet stressful, and discouraging experience.  The range of emotions I feel through out a single day of teaching is unreal.  For example, after one specific class period I feel the surge of motivation, Success, and happiness from the way the class responded to my lesson.  The very next period I feel like a glorified zoo keeper, holding kids against their will in a class they obviously couldn’t care less about.  I’ve had so many different experiences during my first year of teaching, I thought maybe I should share a few.

The phone rings early on a warm summer morning.  I nervously pick up the phone.  The caller on the other end congratulates me, I am the new Health Teacher for the Junior High School.  I accept the job, hang up, and let the terror seep throughout my body.  To be honest, I did not want to teach Junior High.  Junior High students frightened me, a lot.  I was a long term sub at a junior high for three months before landing this job, and lets just say the experience was not a good one.  I vowed right then and there to never apply for the Junior High level.  I planned to teach the  mature and sophisticated high schoolers.  Things don’t work out the way I plan.

So, where do I start? Lets start with the students, shall we?   I have some characters.  One student in particular, we’ll call him Noah, likes to tell me how beautiful I am every time he sees me, which I don’t really mind, although it is a little awkward.  One time I was gaurding the door to keep students from leaving PE early.  There is a fan by the door and it was blowing on me a little bit.  Noah told me I looked like a model with the fan blowing my hair like that.  Flattering yes, but awkward.  What’s bad is he always asks me when we are going to get together?  How am I supposed to respond to this?  I always say the same thing, “next time we’re in Gym Noah… goodbye.”  But he never gives up.  One time while sitting in my office, he came in and told me he wanted to take me on a date.  I very awkwardly told him that was not appropriate and continued talking to the other kids.  Gym class was about to start so, wanting to get everyone to class, I stood up and said, “Okay, we are going out now, lets go.  After having said that, Noah jumped up and said, “WE ARE??  FINALLY!”  I couldn’t help but laugh at him, but at the same time it is very inappropriate.

My Second period class was a nightmare for me and I had some really hard students that liked to give me a lot of crap.  I had one student who refused to do anything.  He sat in the back and twiddled his thumbs.  I threw him out a lot for disrespect.  He’d always tell me how dumb my class was, which upsets me.  In this same period is a kid whom we’ll call Mario who loved to ask a million questions.  Whoever said there are no dumb questions was terribly wrong.  He once raised his hand and asked me if the girl in the video we were watching had a boyfriend.  I told him he was missing the point and shouldn’t be asking those kinds of questions.  He then asked, “Does she have a girlfriend.”  I kicked him out.  I had a meeting during my classes one day, so I had to get a sub to cover my first four periods.  After my meeting I go back to my room to find it completely trashed!  The sub had left a note saying that my second period was out of control and had messed up the room.  They had stolen glue sticks from my drawer, cut the tops off, and threw them on the ceiling so they stuck.  Glue was plastered all over the ceiling.  What in the world was the sub doing during all this?  Probably ducking for cover.   I discovered the names of all students involved, yes Mario was one of them, and made them take every glue stick and scrub every desk down.  I could go on and on about this class, but I think you get the picture.

The good thing about Health is that it’s only a semester long.  So I have recently gotten all new students and have trained them well, although their have been a few incidents.  Right now I’m just struggling with getting my students to respond.  Before I was getting too many responses that were out of control.  Now i’m getting drones that just sit and stare at me with blank faces.  So I try to tell jokes or show them funny videos and still, no response.  “Hello are you guys awake? Whats the deal?”  It crazy how different one class can be from the other.  My PE kids are quite the opposite though. I watch these kids get in fights over a kick ball game that no one is keeping score of.  And these aren’t just arguments… they’re fist fights!  four students have been suspended this year for fighting.  They cheat and get overly competitive.  But at least they like the sport we play.

Most the time however I do love my job.  I love how these students are just little kids at heart.  They pretend to be adults and they want to be treated that way, but they are still just kids.  In gym I get so many kids asking me to watch them do something.  “Ms. Price watch this!”  Then they run to the half court line, chuck the basketball with all their strength towards the hoop and…. it’s an air ball. “Wow!” I say, “That was amazing!” Me and my Co PE teacher watch our kids on free fridays, playing games that little five year olds would play.  They are playing tag, jumping on mats trying to escape the hot lava, making sound effects with their mouths.  I know, you’d think they be a little more mature than that.  But they’re not.  I have students that will run up to me and want to tell me their whole life story.  I of course just want to be left alone a lot of the time, because I never have time to my self.  But they will tell me story after story and all you can do is listen.  Let them talk to you,  they like you a lot more if you’ll just listen to them.  Some times you hear some really disturbing stories though.  In fact,  A girl today told me her whole family sees ghosts, except her brother because he’s not twelve yet.  She wanted to know if seeing ghosts was a mental disorder since that has been our topic of discussion in class.  I didn’t really answer her question.  I talked around it. “You see ghosts?”  “Yes…” “Like the sixth sense?”  “What’s the sixth sense?”  “Uh… class is going to start so time to sit down.”

The most rewarding part of teaching is seeing my students get excited about the lessons.  It may not happen that often but does occasionally.  It’s exciting when they ask questions and genuinely want to learn about the topic.  They want to participate and tell stories that they connect with whats being taught.  I love to see that.  I love to see them interested in something that I am so passionate about. It makes all the crazy unplanned experiences worth it.  And now, there Isn’t a single student out there that could frighten me anymore!

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