Instant Impact

News from Baylor School of Education

Morgan Hicks, BSEd ’21 — First-Year Teacher Reflection

Morgan Hicks, BSEd ’21, Elementary Education
Second grade
Smith Elementary, Frisco ISD
Team Leader, Self-Control Award from Principal

My first year of teaching was an experience full of joy and laughter but also hardships. Baylor SOE was able to send me off prepared for the majority of the things that would come my way this year. The hours spent inside classrooms, especially during the senior-year internship, set me up for success during my first year on my own. Dr. Crowley’s math class really helped me understand how differently my students might solve problems or understand certain math concepts. Dr. Cassidy’s English class helped me understand how to get struggling writers to write by pulling from what they love using a heart map. I feel that my clinical instructors and mentors really helped me understand how to navigate the classroom behaviorally and academically.

Morgan Hicks

My first year was emotionally and mentally draining, while also being so rewarding at the same time. I was prepared for the actual teaching of the content, but boy was the behavioral side of teaching a challenge. My teammates kept telling me “this is not a normal year behaviorally” due to COVID backlash. While creating those relationships with your students in the beginning of the year is beneficial, relationships are always changing, and sometimes they were hard to keep up. There were days that I didn’t want to be the teacher I knew I could be, because I was so exhausted emotionally. But there were also days that I loved getting to be with my students and see their faces light up when they finally understood the content after weeks of struggling. I learned to treat each day as a new day in order to let go of grudges I might’ve had. This profession truly has its ups and downs, and boy will you go through them all.

My most helpful tip for new teachers would be to ASK FOR HELP! Everyone has been through that beginning year before and knows how tough mentally and emotionally tough it can be. There were so many things that my district used (such as acronyms or programs) that I had no idea about and was able to ask my teammates and mentors for help. Reach out to your team leader or instructional coaches for help! My administrators and coaches at Smith were so supportive and made sure I had access to everything I needed. I asked my instructional coaches to come observe or team teach with me multiple times to make sure I was teaching the new curriculum adequately and to help support me in new learning. I promise no question is a dumb question!

A big lesson I had to learn this year was that I couldn’t do it all. No matter how hard I tried or how late I stayed after school, I couldn’t do everything that I wanted to do. The motto for my team this year was “maybe next time” and it was truly something I learned to live by as the year went on. Once I learned that lesson, I was able to truly balance my own time with school time. If my tank was not full, how was I expected to fill my students? Now, there are some days that you just have to get something done. However, there are a lot more days that you can wait till the next day or week to complete those tasks. It’s a give and take, where you can’t take more than you can give. Some of my favorite memories weren’t the big things such as field day or field trips. While those were some unforgettable moments to have as a class, some of my favorite ones are much smaller. Such as when a student would come rushing to the room in the morning to tell me about how they won their football game the night before, or how their baby sister was born, or even that they got to eat their favorite meal for dinner last night. It’s those little moments that you can take a step back and realize how important those relationships are, not only to you, but most importantly to them. My school firmly believes in the quote from Rita Pierson, “Kids can’t learn from teachers they don’t like.”