I will always remember the first time I attended a local church when I moved to town eight years ago. Before the service had even ended, I was quickly surrounded by curious locals wanting to know all about the young, new person in their midst. When I told them I would be teaching chemistry at the high school, they immediately shuffled me towards three other high school teachers. I was welcomed by those veteran teachers and was put at ease by our friendly chat. The words of wisdom that have always stayed with me from that day came from the school band director: "Everyone says the first year of teaching is the toughest but I'll tell you, my first year was my best. I stayed just one step ahead of the kids so I didn't have time to worry about whether I was doing things right or wrong. Ever since then, I've been second-guessing everything I do!"
That band director retired several years ago but after my eight years of teaching I would still have to agree with him. For a wide variety of reasons, it seems my first and second years of teaching were some of my best years. I wasn't the most effective teacher but I was happy and fulfilled by learning along with my students and building strong relationships with great kids. Ever since then, I've been trying to implement new, research-based teaching strategies while having additional job responsibilities and teaching more classes...all the while knowing there is more I should do to help my students learn. It's enough to make my head spin.
I'm not really sure what it will look like, but I want to make this my best year yet. The new school year means a chance to start over and be better than last year. Through continuous reflection and purposeful actions, I hope to shine in year nine.