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First Year Teacher Reflections — How Did Baylor SOE Grads Do? [08/12/2019]


Every future teacher dreams of the day they will have their own classroom, but what’s it really like during that first year of teaching? The Baylor School of Education program in teacher education is designed to prepare graduates thoroughly for the classroom through rigorous coursework as well as intense faculty-guided field experiences. But can anything really prepare them for their first year of teaching? How did our graduates really do? Read the reflections of five of our 2018 graduates after their first year in the classroom.

Gabby Salazar, BSEd ’18, Bethke Elementary, Katy ISD
First grade

“Year one is done — it flew by! It pushed me, challenged me, and grew me immeasurably more than I thought possible. It was also so sweet to me — the grace and love my students showed me every day is comparable to the love and grace that God gives us daily. Man, did they love me well. On my toughest days, seeing those 23 sweet faces smile at me made it all worth it. I am forever changed and better because of those tiny humans.”


Rebekah Tate, BSEd ’18, Arlington High School, Arlington ISD
Ninth Grade Algebra 1
UIL Number Sense Sponsor / May 2019 Teacher of the Month

“All in all, no sugarcoating, my first-year experience was wonderful. That’s not to say there weren’t some incredibly rough days (with maybe a few tears), where I lost a lot of faith in my myself and my abilities. People tell you teaching isn’t easy. But you can’t really know until you have 28 freshmen in your class, only three are paying attention, no one will stop talking, technology ceases working, someone needs a Band-aid, 10 kids need a pencil and you have 5, someone just cussed someone else out, and right when you get everyone settled and somewhat paying attention, the phone rings and everyone gets off task again… and that’s only the first 30 minutes of first period.”


Jared Kloeker, BSEd ’18, Elgin Middle School, Elgin ISD
Seventh Grade Texas History
Coach for Football, Basketball and Track

“Baylor prepared me well. Content wise, I was absolutely solid. Arsenal of learning techniques, double check. Classroom management was honestly not my strongest suit when I graduated, so I knew I was going to have to work hard on it. But when I looked around at the other teachers in the hallway (7 of 10 were new teachers), I could tell there was a large difference in how efficient my classroom was in management and better test scores, than teachers who went to other colleges.”


Kristen Boyd, Belmar Elementary, Amarillo ISD
First Grade

“There will always be the one student. I had already established a behavior system for the whole class that seemed to be working, but I had to try a variety of other systems for that one student. It took weeks and weeks before I found a system that worked! It was exhausting to do all of that extra work for one student, but it made me a better teacher. By the end of the year, that student was no longer my main focus. The extra behavior system was no longer needed. That student ended up making my year so fun, and I learned so much from him. Now I look forward to seeing how he does in second grade, and I hope to have him visit my new class as a ‘guest reader.'”


Lauren Knapton, BSEd ’18, Lynn Hale Elementary, Arlington ISD
Fifth grade

“My experiences in the School of Education at Baylor prepared me well for certain major responsibilities of teaching such as lesson planning, data analysis, assessing students, and knowledge of state standards. I am so thankful for this, and it made these areas of teaching easier because I felt prepared. The part that I didn’t realize I had the most room to grow in was navigating the area of social-emotional learning with my students. To be honest, this is something that I think all first-year teachers struggle with and have to learn by experience over time!”


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For more than 100 years Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to classrooms and beyond as teachers, superintendents, psychologists, health education professionals, academics/scholars and more. With more than 50 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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