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First Year Teacher Self-Study Course

First Year Teacher is a self-paced professional development course for novice K-3 teachers, developed by Reading Rockets. The program provides teachers with an in-depth knowledge of reading so they are prepared to guide their students into becoming skilled and enthusiastic readers.

Photo of teacher and students

Week 1

The beginning

I did it! I survived my first two days of school! Woo-hoo! I had thought these two days would be the longest (and worst) days of my life, but they weren't. I got through them. I am now officially a teacher!

These past two weeks have showed me what people mean when they say, "It is not easy being a teacher." I quickly realized this before school even started! My principal told me ten days before school started that I had first grade, so I did not have much time to prepare. I spent eight to ten hours a day, in the disgusting New Jersey humidity, trying to pull together a classroom that would seem warm and inviting to my students. As I went from Hammets to Target to Staples and back to Hammets again, I kept telling myself that I just needed to get the bare basics done. I knew that once school started, I would have so much student work to display that I would eventually run out of space. Even though this did not really comfort me as I looked at my bare walls, I knew that everything, including the classroom and myself, would change once the students came in.

The night before the first day of school I could not sleep. I tossed and turned all night, wondering, "Will my students like me? Will I know who they are? Will I remember do to everything? Will I start off on a good note so that the rest of the year follows smoothly?" These were just some of the thousands of questions I kept asking myself, over and over, as I waited for the first day to be done and over with!

I was amazed at how fast the first day of school went by! And the second! My students were so nervous, as they left half-day kindergarten and began their careers as full day students. When I saw how nervous they were, I quickly put my own anxieties aside and eased them into my classroom and routine. By the time we made rules, reviewed classroom procedures, toured the school, completed "Getting to know you" activities and read first day of school books, it was time for dismissal! I thought to myself "If every day goes by this quickly, I think I can handle this!"

I have no idea what the rest of the year is going to be like, but for right now, it really doesn't matter! My first two days of school were successful! I quickly learned most of the students' names. (Thank goodness I made them wear nametags!) And aside from screwing up the lunch order, I knew what to do. I did not forget anything. It felt natural to be in the classroom with the students. I just hope that as the year goes on, it will only feel more natural.

"You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend." — Paul Sweeney