Every future teacher dreams of the day they will have their very own classroom, so we like to check in and find out how that pivotal first year went. Well, this year was different, to say the least.
The Baylor School of Education program in teacher education is designed to prepare graduates thoroughly through rigorous coursework as well as intense faculty-guided clinical experiences in schools. But can anything really prepare them for their first year of teaching? And how did our newly minted teachers navigate this spring’s historic disruption?
Read the reflections of five of our 2019 graduates after their first year in their own classroom — or wherever they were this spring, reaching their remote students in creative ways!
“Teaching through a phone and sending all work on paper has challenged me to look at the learning practices I learned from Baylor in a whole new light. Visiting students in their villages has been an invaluable experience to build relationships with students and know how I can better teach them. Drawing graphs in the dirt, working on multiplication and area by counting bricks, and helping a family to budget for the first time have been memories I will never forget.”
“This season also opened my eyes to the questions: ‘What really matters? What is really important?’ Clearly, STAAR testing was not an answer. Neither was homework, nor students’ timeliness of turning things in, when they were at home all day, sharing a computer with their four siblings as their parents juggled work and tried to make sure their students finished their schoolwork at home. I am thankful for what this pandemic has revealed. It certainly makes me nervous for what this next year will look like, but I know I can move forward with confidence that in the end, relationships will be built, and students will learn.”
“If there is anything I have learned from teaching this year, it is to be adaptable. Not only did I have to adapt my teaching style to fit the students, but I also had to adapt to the school culture in Korea. It may not come as a surprise, but Korean schools differ from American schools. . . . COVID aside, I enjoy my life in Korea. I have found an English church and have been able to make many friends (other foreigners and Koreans). Now I have friends from all different countries. My favorite thing to do in Korea is to go to cafés. There are more cafés in Korea than you could ever imagine. Plus, the cafés usually all have themes: animal cafe, pink cafe, Emoji cafe. You name it, and they probably have it in Korea.”
“My first three weeks at school flew by. I had learned so much from my team and was starting to find my own groove as a teacher. I’ll never forget that Thursday afternoon on the third week of school when my principal asked me to come to his office. My principal told me that, due to low numbers in my class, I was being ‘rifted’ to another school to teach first grade. The move would happen in two days. Immediately I felt like my world was falling apart. I was in love with my school, my students, my team and truly could not believe this was happening. Soon my room was packed up and I was driving to my new home campus.”
“Baylor is a special place, there is no doubt about that. The School of Education not only prepared me to step into my own classroom as a confident teacher, but it also prepared me to step into education as a team player, an advocate, and a safe place to land for my students. It prepared me to see my students as children of God and not just a name on a role sheet. . . . The first semester was a long one filled with ‘learnable’ moments, but nothing could have prepared me for the spring.”