During my junior year at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, I recall a profound moment when my Classroom Management professor, Dr. Pace, asked us why we were considering the teaching profession. Though it may have seemed like an ordinary moment to Dr. Pace, my mind was stirring with a whirlwind of thoughts and I remember that moment like yesterday. What was my underlying motivation? What did I want to accomplish once I entered the classroom?
In college we had to sketch floor plans of our classroom and write about our philosophies of education. However, I had no idea how cramped my first classroom would be. Located at the back of the school library, it was formerly a fairly large resource room converted into two classrooms. I recall waiting anxiously in August 2004 as I called my school and asked when the wall would be constructed to separate the room into two classrooms. I also recall when I was presented with an order form and was told I could spend $200.00 on my classroom. I recall being assigned a mentor, having extreme jitters prior to Open House, speaking like I had swallowed Elmerâs Glue at Open House, and somehow getting through my first day of school, though an intervention teacher suggested at about 10:00 in the morning in front of my class, âYou need for your students to move around a bit, donât you?â
From there, I would learn about AIP forms, which have been altered twice since then. Of course, there would also be IEP forms, interventions, test preparation strategies, teachers who would be on your case for going âabove and beyondâ, parental issues, and various behavior issues. Even coming to my mind was a time where one of my students was going through an extremely difficult time with the illness of his grandmother and another student had written down a poem that was on the wall of another classroom- âLove is in your heart, wasnât put there to stay, love isnât love, until you give it away.â
When we were in college, we certainly learned a lot. Attending a fairly small private liberal arts college had its benefits. Basically all the education majors in the class of 2004 formed a fairly tight bond. Our professors were superior and became acquainted with us on a personal basis. They were certainly available when we needed their advice or encouragement. However, we were not fully prepared- and would not be- until we would actually be in the classroom.
For some reason, our teachers never seemed to speak with us about students who would fake going to the clinic, tutoring, coming up with interventions, allotting extra time in the day for specified instruction, students who refuse to put forth effort for a writing assignment, planning a holiday celebration, parentsâ notes in the agenda, and remedying a lesson that goes awry. Sure, we seemed to read about it, but we never seemed to be able to apply it, not even so much in practicum because we were more so observing in the very beginning.
In light of this, next Thursday morning, I am heading to my alma mater in St. Augustine to give practical advice to college students interested in teaching grades 3-5. My best friend, a teacher in Deltona, Florida, will be speaking to those interested in teaching grades K-2. It will certainly be an interesting time because I remember when I truly âdiscoveredâ the resources that are available for teachers. It will also be enlightening considering I have come âfull-circleâ since college and I am now in a position where I can help others.
This is not necessarily an entry where I am offering much advice; I am simply reflecting on the plethora of information I have learned since graduating college. I have learned that there is an eternal amount of paperwork, the paperwork can certainly get overwhelming, sometimes the âright wordsâ do not come to mind readily, not everyone likes you (despite your dedication and heart), and you can make a tremendous difference in the life of one of your colleagues or students. It is absolutely astonishing thinking of everything you learn âbeyond the booksâ in the classroom.