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News from Baylor School of Education

Rylee Jorges, BSEd ’21 — First-Year Teacher Reflection

Rylee Jorges

Rylee Jorges, BSEd ’21, Secondary English
Ninth- and Tenth-grade English
Waco High School, Waco ISD
Waco High School’s New Teacher of the Year

My first year of teaching has taught me that relationships are the key to student success. To put it simply, students will not learn from you if they do not like or trust you. In order to earn their trust, you must be honest, genuine, and compassionate. When students feel valued and loved, there isn’t much they will not do for you!

Students will learn from a great teacher, but sometimes the best teacher in the room was not me. Student-facilitated instruction played a key role in my classroom, and research shows that students learn the most while they are teaching others.

Additionally, I have found that my students are more highly engaged while being taught by one of their peers. Whenever possible, I weave student-led activities into my instruction. I love to utilize lots of jigsaws, student-led warm-ups, and each-one-teach-one activities. These activities not only increase student learning and engagement but also promote self-confidence in students.

Your first year will not always be smooth sailing, and you will have students that push back and act out, but you must not take it personally. In fact, one of my students told me to “get hit by a bus” when I told him to put his phone away. It would have been easy to take this misbehavior personally and distance myself from this child, but instead, I had to change my way of thinking.

As people, it’s easy to lash out and hurt the ones that love us because we know they will forgive us; that same mentality applies to the classroom. So rather than becoming upset and holding a grudge, you must treat each day like a new day when students walk through your door.

I promise your students will remember how you treat them and make them feel. The same boy that told me to get hit by a bus later wrote my name five times over when asked to list five qualities that make a good teacher. To sum it up, a little love and empathy will make all the difference.

I owe so much of my success this year to the Baylor SOE program. I had so many extraordinary professors and mentor teachers who pushed me and inspired me to be a better teacher, specifically Dr. Sandra Talbert, Dr. Jess Smith, Dr. Mona Choucair, and my mentor teachers Alisa Keen at Waco High School and Sarah Tipton at University High School. These educators taught me how to best meet the various needs of my students. Additionally, they provided me with the tools necessary to teach with rigor, compassion, and joy!