Back to the Start
Here we are in another beginning-of-the-school-year season. For me, this marks year 13 of being in the profession, 12 of those being a grade 1 teacher, and one year being a 1/2 teacher. I know many teachers who love the thrill of changing grade levels because they either get bored of doing the same thing over and over again, love a new challenge, or simply just need a change. I am not one of those teachers. I am absolutely in love with teaching grade 1 and I’ve been able to avoid the boredom that might come with doing it for over a decade by continually learning, gowning, and changing up what I do. Somehow I fall in love with this grade even more every single year and get excited about what’s to come.
The 2022-2023 is an extra special school year for me for many reasons, one of which is that I have the pleasure of having a student teacher! M. Kevin has been a part of our classroom since day one where we had opening day conference to meet our students and their families. He’s with us 4 days a week until mid-February, and then joins us full time until the end of March. For me, this is such a special opportunity to give back to the profession I adore so much… train teachers to do something I love? And help them see all the of the sunshine and rainbows that our profession gets to create? Yes please! Having said that though, I also really appreciate the opportunity to learn from someone else! As I always tell my students; we are in this together. We will learn from one another through it all… it’s not a one-way street. This is completely true with M. Kevin as well. Despite the fact that I am the teacher, and he is the student teacher, I will learn just as much from him as he will learn from me, and we will figure things out together. The point is, even as an “experienced” teacher, I often feel like I have no choice but to go back to the start. Today, that is exactly what happened, and I found myself asking M. Kevin for feedback at the end of the day.
Know better, do better, right? Last year, mid school year, my grade 1 team completely changed the way we teach literacy. On a dime. I mean it. The change was fast, furious, and AMAZING! We saw, in only a few months, the impact that this shift had had, and we were so excited to see what could come of this if we’d start the year off with this new approach. Fast forward to Summer 2022, we had a team retreat where we hung out, laughed, ate, floated in the pool, and planned, planned, planned together! We were ready to hit the ground running this September.
Today was our first day of an official lesson “à la OG” (Orton-Gillingham), with a plan to have lessons of this format every day from here on out. New routines, new procedures, new steps to follow… we had planned it all. We were ready, but we were nervous because we had no idea how it would all work out with real kiddos sitting in front of us. Let me start off by saying that it went really well… but…
You were waiting for the but, right?
No word of a lie, the OG lesson today took THE WHOLE DAY! Okay, I’m being a little dramatic. We started off the day with our usual greeting, we did the calendar (a whole 20 minutes maybe) and did our word of the day. Then, OG! And we continued after the first recess. And some more after lunch. Finally, even though we weren’t quite done, I called it after the last recess to give these kiddos a break and well-deserved play time. No math today. No sciences or social studies. No picture book having been read. Nothing. But. OG.
Phew! A whole day for ONE lesson? Send help!
I know it will get better. I know it will get faster. Everything takes longer when you’re starting up a new routine, but my point, especially to Kevin, is that even when you’ve been doing this teaching gig for a while, there are days where you don’t quite know how it’s going to go down. There are times where things take soooooo much longer than you thought it would, and other days where the lesson finishes in record time! Some lessons flop. Others are miraculously born on a whim, and you just go with it because they’re the best thing you’ve ever done. Whether you’re new at this or have been doing it for years and years, you should continue to try new things and take risks, especially when it’s for what’s best for kids. What a beautiful thing for M. Kevin to see firsthand today. Mme Annick didn’t know what she was doing, or how that lesson would work out, but she did it anyways. I guess it’s not just new teachers who feel this way. There is power in knowing you are not alone!
No matter how long you’ve been doing this, you will undoubtedly go back to the start. Embrace it. Learn from it. And know that you are not alone.
To the rookies, the veterans, and everyone in between… go back to the start.
Jennifer Casa-ToddSeptember 24, 2022 at 6:35 am
Great advice and an excellent post. I would love to hear more about the shift in your Literacy practice that made a big difference. J
Annick RauchSeptember 24, 2022 at 8:51 am
Thanks, Jen! I’d love to tell you more about it!! Hopefully at Teacher Better 💜