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Welcome to my blog! I use my blog as a way to reflect, share, organize, and re-conceptualize my views as an educator. Enjoy and feel free to comment, post, disagree, and share your opinion. The more perspectives, the better!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I survived!

Its official. I survived my first year teaching. Let's try that again, I SURVIVED MY FIRST YEAR TEACHING! There are very few moments and challenges in my life that compare to my first year teaching.

Before I started teaching I would hear statistics about the retention rates of teachers. Things like "30% of teachers leave teaching in the first 3 years, 45% leave in the first 5 years." I just couldn't understand it. It didn't make sense for someone to work so hard to get licensed and then just leave. Now I get it. I totally get it.

Not even 2 months into my first year I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. I was in hell, but least I was getting paid for it. 

3 months into the year I made a deal with myself: I will finish my TFA commitment and then try a different type of school setting. I put four years to begin this career, I felt like I should try it for at least that long. 

4 months into the year and my eyes were on June. Could I make it? I honestly wasn't sure. As I got ready every morning I would count the hours until I got to go home. 

5 months into the year, holy crap...I am over half way done. 6 months into the year: I had given up...well at least that is what I told myself. The reality is that I didn't give up, I just needed to break the cycle of exhaustion. I went home immediately after school every day except Thursday--tutoring day. Thank God for tutoring day. I LOVED Thursday tutoring, and so did my kids. After 2 weeks the rest of my class was begging to come to tutoring too. 

7 months into the year. I think I might be getting the hang of this. I am used to the chaos. And I think there might be some learning going on. Just kidding, let's review how we move from our desks to the carpet. 

8 months into the year. Let's finish up this year so I can have a fresh start. I sort of know what I am doing now. Just kidding, I won't be teaching at my school next year. Oh shit, I need to find a new job. I have a new job--3rd graders are big. Wow, there are a lot of people who believe in me. Maybe I am making an impact?

Last month of the year. Pressure is off. What are they going to do to me? I am already leaving. Let's have a little bit of fun. I am going to plan my own way...just to see if it works. It works, but I wish they would stop writing all over my damn classroom. Too bad they love cleaning. 

Last week of the year: My mom is a life saver! She is an awesome packer too. We don't need a schedule. No, we can't stop learning. Just because it is the end of the year, doesn't mean we shouldn't learn. I love you, have a great summer. I won't miss them. I'm not sorry about it either. I SURVIVED!

And there you have it. A quick summary of my year. I still can't believe I am done. I wrote the summary to show how I was feeling as the year progressed. The reality of this year was that I was miserable. The reality is that I loved each and every one of my kids...I just hated my class. The reality was that despite our many, many challenges my kids learned. They learned! As a class we achieved 1.4 years of reading growth. For many of my students that means they are more than prepared for 2nd grade. For the rest of my students I can only hope that they will continue to rise to the challenge of reading and writing.

One of the most important things I taught my students was that they are in charge of their learning. My mom mentioned it to me when she came down to visit a second time, and she is right. They know what they need to do to learn. One of the best illustrations of this is a conversation I had with my kids who did not get to go to the end of year RAH (read at home) party. This means that they did not meet their at home reading goal.
B: Miss Prinzo, Do you remember when I got to go to the RAH party. I read a lot of books.
Miss Prinzo: I know B. I was hoping that you would read more this quarter.
B: I needed to do better.
C: I didn't have books at home
(before I could say something..)
T: That's not true. Miss Prinzo makes sure everyone has books.
B: Yeah, all you had to do was ask.
J: It is your job to get to the RAH party. 
B: We didn't get to go because we didn't read the books.
It sounds crazy, but this is one of my favorite moments from this year. I could not have been prouder of my boys---they truly understood that they were in charge of their goal and refused to let "C" blame me for it. For the record, B had already started his summer reading log before the last day of school. Hopefully it will stick.

On the last day of school I was given 2 notes. I have read both of them at least a dozen times since then. They have helped restore the belief I once had in myself.

One was from one of my most difficult students' parents, "You treated him like a star. You are truly skilled at your job and you are an inspiration to these little kids...the impact of your work is so significant, it will help him for the rest of his life."  I cannot tell you how much I appreciated her note.  It helped me put my year into perspective and realize that I did make a difference. Not the difference I had hoped for, but a difference.

The second note was from my team leader. She was a rock for me this year and I am pretty sure she helped kept me from quitting more than a few times. "I know this has been a rough year for you, but you made it through it--stronger and smarter..."

I am smarter and stronger. I made it through my first year teaching and I am ready for next year.

Mrs. Prinzo reading to my kids during the last week of school.
Read alouds were the best part of teaching this year!