first year teaching

To New Teachers, With Love

So the advice giveaway is over, and we have a winner!

It’s Heather!!! Message me your address on Facebook so I can send you your gift card!  🙂

THANK YOU to all of you who contributed; we are only as strong as the sum of our parts. I appreciate you with my big appreciative heart.

New teachers, this year you’ll be faced with a thousand decisions to make on the spot.

It will be the most difficult thing you’ll ever do if you do it well.

You might cry, but you don’t necessarily have to.

Ask for help, be a sponge, learn from everything. We believe in you. 



Gift Card Giveaway!!: Advice to First Year Teachers: I need YOU, Teachers!

Hey ya’ll! I’ve shared things about what I’ve learned about my earlier years of teaching in the past, but alas I am still a babe when it comes to experience. It would be boring if I just wrote another one by myself for this year. I’m going to write a post of collected advice from anyone I can get my hands on (that sounded creepy) to share with new teachers at the beginning of this year. I will credit each and every one of your lovely faces.


Everyone who responds will be put in a raffle to win a 20 dollar Visa gift card to spend on anything you please to prep for the school year!!! (wine, anyone?) You may only enter once, but feel free to give a couple or a few pieces of advice if you are just that sage.

Whom I need: Anyone who has taught for at least a year, anywhere! Even at the college level.

What I need: A piece of advice in 1-3 sentences. If you have a link to more detailed advice, include it!

Extras: If you are so inclined, leave your name or screen name. Also please leave your blog website too, if you have one, and I will link it! Twitter handles are great too.

Deadline: August 10th, 2015

How you can give this to me: Comment on my facebook page (and like it while you’re there, plz), comment on this blog, or tweet to @Shannasclass

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH YOUR TEACHER COMRADES. I only have such a reach on my own, and I would like to pool as many people as possible.

Example: “If there’s one thing I wish I would have known during my first year, it would be this: don’t forget to shower.” 



I’m so excited to hear from everyone! I’m this excited: 

Anything for a year

When I took this job, I remember telling myself and anyone who looked at me skeptically (mainly my mom) that “I can do anything for a year. If I want to back out after that, I can.”

Now I want anything but backing out.

I just finished my first year of teaching last week, ending with watching my students walk across our little gym stage to receive diplomas and various awards. They come up to me afterwards, demanding pictures (I demand them too) and demanding hugs (sideways hugs). My mom visited the school, and was welcomed by students showing her around our school garden—chicken coop and compost pile included. She got to see my work; not just where I work, but the work I do. The kids I teach. The projects completed on the walls in my classroom, that I describe with pride like they’re almost the work of my own children.


Getting Back the Teaching Mojo

It’s Friday, and I’m sitting here at the end of a slow day. The return from Spring Break has been a week full of frustration and anticipation of…Summer Break.

This whole week I really did not want to be a teacher. I didn’t want the responsibility of planning lessons, finding materials, getting out of bed, coralling makeup work for students (who miss school for weeks at a time, only to barge into my room and demand a quarter’s worth of English work. It takes a lot of self control to stay calm and not hurl dry erasers across the room.)


Clear to Neutral

I read somewhere that to be ready to teach every day, you have to practice
“Clear to Neutral.”

The practice of “Clear to Neutral” relates to procrastination and disorganization. If you leave a kitchen messy the day you plan to make a large dinner, it takes more time to clean it up and get ready to make a quality meal. You could cook in a messy kitchen, but then you risk contamination, you can’t find counter space, you get stressed out because everything’s dirty and you have to keep rewashing the same spatula. You clear your kitchen to neutral (i.e., restore it to its normal state) before any good productivity can happen.

More extrapolation on this here.

Once I read this, I began paying attention to the small things—my binder storage area in the classroom was a wreck, I had no system for my kids to get notebook paper, I hadn’t vacuumed my carpet in about a week, and it just looked straight up messy up in room 102.

There is, as well as physical neutrality, mental neutrality. These are the menial tasks: grading, grade entering into Progressbook, taking care of myself, packing my lunch the night before, making sure I get in bed at a decent hour, putting effort into how I dress for school. I don’t enjoy doing these things, so I tend to put them off. Really, it just builds up and affects my work performance. If I’m not prepared for class or not “there” that day, my energy is shot and therefore the class period is a waste.

I have been attempting “Clear to Neutral” for the past few weeks, and it’s paying off. My planning has been a lot more focused, my attitude has been better, I feel more prepared, I have more energy, and my general overall feeling about teaching has improved. I’m able to get to that deeper level of reflection when I have more time for it; as a first year teacher, reflection is crucial. The more I get to reflect, the more I learn about myself and my practice.


A New Foray

This will be short because I have to lesson plan…


I spent all summer searching for my first job as a (paid) teacher, and I found it. This past month I have learned more than I could have imagined—my job is wonderful and makes me feel like I’m making a difference. To be able to use what I’ve learned in college feels great. I teach at a charter school, right in the midst of school reform battleground. I am excited to share new things that I come across while I’m teaching that apply to school reform, and how I can begin to make a difference in the lives of many, many people. I have a wonderful staff, crazy awesome students, and I get to teach! You all can expect some interesting posts this school year—I will update as often as I can!