Comparing Year One to Year Two (Part 1)

As an English teacher, I often ask my students to compare and contrast. (Side Note: Does anyone else agree that “compare and contrast” is redundant?) I wouldn’t be a very good teacher if I didn’t model the skills I expect from my students, so I’m starting a series of blog posts in which I compare my first year of teaching to my second year.  Although the second year hasn’t truly begun, in this post I’m going to focus on my feelings going into the school year.

As I’ve said in previous posts, my first year of teaching snuck up on me since I got hired so close to the start of the school year.  I was super excited but also completely overwhelmed by the thought of everything that would be required of me as a full-time teacher. Looking back at least year, the question on my mind, whether consciously or unconsciously, was can I do this? Can I be a teacher? For me, and I’m sure many other first year teachers, that year was mainly about survival, about finding my bearings in a new environment.

Entering my second year, the question has changed.  Now I’m asking myself How can I be an effective teacher? What can I do to be the best teacher I can be? I can’t explain how significant this shift is. Instead of trying to make it through day by day, I’m now looking at the year as a whole and planning how to make it a great year for my students.  If you saw my previous post about curriculum planning, you already know how much more prepared I am for this school year.  However, the shift from the first to second year is bigger than the products of my planning; as I touched on above, my entire mindset has changed.

I’m feeling confident in my abilities to plan and execute great lessons and help my students achieve their learning goals.  It’s a confidence that can only come with experience, and a confidence I couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of last school year.  As this school year gets underway, I’ll reflect on other changes from last year to this one and add them in follow-up posts.

For those of you who have been teaching for multiple years, I’d love to hear your perspectives on how your practices, philosophies, and mindset have evolved from year to year.

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