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Teach2Teach - Terrible Teaching Experience

"What has been your most troublesome experience with teaching and how did you handle it?"
This is the great question #3 posed by Jennifer to Amy Lenord for her inspired #Teach2Teach blog series. Here is my 1st #Teach2Teach Post  & 2nd #Teach2Teach post. See all of the questions and answers here at the #Teach2Teach Weebly.



I have been pondering this question for over a week now trying to come up with the number one worst experience, and the thing is I still can not nail it down to just one. When bad things happen, I honestly try to do everything in my power to forget them and pretend like they did not happen. With time, looking back everything looks a little more rosy, which is how my optimistic self likes to look at things. Here is what I learned my first 2 years teaching. But, in the spirit of learning and growing let's take a little trip back to my first year teaching. 

My first year teaching had MANY moments that if you asked me that day, while the wounds were still fresh, I would have told you were my worst teaching experiences. I was overwhelmed as a department of one, teaching all four levels of Spanish alone with nothing but a 15 year old textbook, and a teachers edition that did not even match up. To add to the stress, I made the uninformed decision to get married 6 weeks into my first ever teaching job. I also agreed to be the assistant director to the fall play, and then director of the sprint musical (which at a small school means you are the technical director, vocal coach, choreographer, costume designer, set designer, press manager, and director all rolled into one). The cherry on top was my second job as the lead staff development coordinator and trainer for Camp Adventure at the local University. To say I was in over my head was a gross understatement. 

That year it was more than just a troublesome experience, but more of a troublesome class. I was the third teacher in three years for this his huge Spanish III class and they just expected Spanish to be a blow off, easy class. Five dropped in the first week after seeing my syllabus and meeting me. While I was slightly offended by this, I think it was best for everyone. 

That class and I butt heads on Everything as they insisted they had not learned "anything" in two years. To make matters worse, there were a few individuals who knew exactly how to get me personally. I was unsure and vulnerable and these students were the first to rudely point out any error I made, from spelling in English on the board, to spilling something on myself at lunch. They giggled behind their hands at each other and like a self conscious middle school student, I let it get to me. It did not help that the grammar driven quizzes and tests straight from the book that I was cramming down their throats, were terrible and no one was engaged in the material. 
 So, to the most important part of the question, how did I handle this? To be honest at this time I did not handle it well. There were many times where after school I had a crying breakdown either to my principal, mom, or husband. Even worse there were days that I started to cry in class. How I learned to handle this, was to give the students a task, take a step back, do back to my desk, take a deep breath, take a drink of water, and maybe have a snack.  You can see my advice in this post.

Most of all, I started to build better relationships with the students. Each year, everything has gotten SO much easier, and I think a big part of this is students now come in knowing the expectations, and we have built a relationship. Students do not try and push my buttons near as much, because they do not get a reaction. At the same time I have built up a thicker skin, and let things roll off instead of taking them personally. 

Will your first year teaching be one of the hardest experiences of your life? Absolutely. Will you learn and grow from every encounter? You betcha! If you are a pre-service or new teacher, Please do not hesitate to ask me questions, as I would be more than willing to help you in any way that I can. 

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