So You Wish It Had Been Different: Three First-Year Struggles

New Teacher Survival Guide

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three-part series by Tch Laureate Emeritus Sarah Brown Wessling for new teachers wrapping up the school year.

“Every fear hides a wish.” — David Mamet

My first year of teaching was equal parts fear and wishing. In fact, they each pulled me from opposite directions, sometimes so tautly, everything seemed to bounce right off me, into the distance, uncatchable. That was my first year of teaching: lots of wishing for magical teaching moments and lots of hiding from my fears. I wished the kids would like me, but my fear meant I had some classroom management issues early on. I wished my colleagues would think I was doing a good job, but my fear meant I wouldn’t reach out to them with my own insecurities. I wished my lessons would all be inspired, but my fear meant that too often I would think about a “cool lesson” instead of a scope of learning.

My first year taught me that the rest of my years would be about shrinking the fictions of wishing and fear in order to opt for the beautiful and real mess of a teaching life. In case you’re finding yourself, at the end of this first year, needing a little less fiction and a little more beautiful mess, here are some common end-of-first-year struggles and how to use them to launch yourself into an even stronger year two. Read more

PodcastPodcastTch Talks 8: Sarah & Friends with Sara Kadjer

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Sara Kadjer, professor of English Education at the University of Georgia, discusses her distinguished career, from middle school teacher to higher ed faculty. A pioneer in digital literacies and new media education, Sara talks about the greater complexities of the world today and the important role teachers play in helping young people navigate those complexities. Through it all, Sara is inspired by the joy of working with children and witnessing their learning. “Real innovation is not in response to anyone’s edict.”@skadjer

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PodcastPodcastTch Talks 7: Sarah & Friends with Meenoo Rami

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Meenoo Rami has taught high school English in Philadelphia, written the book Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching, and is now the Education Manager for Minecraft, the wildly popular virtual building game. Sarah Brown Wessling talks with Meenoo about her work in education over the years, with a special emphasis on being new to the profession.

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PodcastPodcastTch Talks 5: Sarah and Friends with Shawn Sheehan

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In this Tch Talk Series “Sarah and Friends,” Tch Laureate Sarah Brown Wessling catches up with Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year Shawn Sheehan to hear his advice to his first-year teacher self.

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PodcastPodcastTch Talks 3: Sarah & Friends with Leah Alcala

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Leah Alcala, well known to the Teaching Channel community from her popular videos such as My Favorite No and Highlighting Mistakes: A Grading Strategy, talks with Sarah Brown Wessling about her teaching journey. Now a Math teacher at Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California, Leah recounts what she’s learned over the years about the craft of teaching.


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PodcastPodcastTch Talks 1: Sarah & Friends with Josh Parker

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Josh Parker started as a substitute teacher — and nearly quit. Now, a Maryland State Teacher of the Year, Josh talks with Sarah Brown Wessling about his first year of teaching, part of the launch of our Tch Talks podcast.

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Sarah’s Summer Road Trip (Week 3): Project-Based Learning for All

Sarah's Summer Road Trip

Our last road trip stop in Tampa, Florida, helped us reconnect with the importance of giving students all kinds of space for learning: verbal space to drive discussions, cognitive space to design questions for learning, and physical space to foster collaboration.

With our sense of space broadened, let’s make our way to Flushing International High School in New York, where we’ll meet teacher Jordan Wolf. He’s going to give us some incredible insight about working with English Language Learners. Onward!

You’re invited to join us as we take another special Zaption tour, this time in Jordan’s classroom. We’ll learn more about the ways he meets students where they are in order to build deeper learning experiences. Don’t forget, when you participate in the Zaption tour, you also have the chance to discuss it with teachers from around the country who are road tripping with us!

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Jordan Wolf: From Subway to Student-Learning Advocate

Sarah's Summer Road Trip

This interview with Jordan Wolf is part of Sarah’s Summer Road Trip: Uncovering the Secrets of Great Teaching. Engage with the Zaption tour of Jordan’s classroom and ride along on the road trip!

Like many teachers, Jordan Wolf’s path to the classroom was more happenstance than planned. Also, like many teachers, Jordan Wolf knew immediately he had found his passion.

As an environmental consultant, just out of college, Jordan recognized that his love for science and research was being overwhelmed by the politics of his consultancy work. Then, one auspicious day on the New York City subway, he read an advertisement from the NYC Teaching Fellows offering an alternative credentialing system to become a teacher. He signed up, was accepted, went through an intensive two-month initiation program, and started student teaching while finishing his coursework.

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#TchLIVE: Road Trip Unpacked

Sarah's Summer Road Trip

Dirty laundry and bug-covered windshields are always sure signs of a road trip well-taken and are certainly part of the experience. For as much as I love planning a trip, I always look forward to the catharsis of unpacking the car and taking stock of the adventure. The snapshots in my mind of great moments, quietly laughing about the imperfect ones, and re-telling favorite stories.

Recently, I’ve embarked on a virtual road trip, visiting classrooms around the country to uncover the secrets of great teaching. This virtual road trip has left me with the desire to keep talking to these amazing teachers, to learn more about their teaching stories, and to have them “unpack” all of those invisible moves in their lessons.

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Sarah’s Summer Road Trip (Week 2): Question Protocols

Sarah's Summer Road Trip

The first leg of our virtual trip across the country to Seattle, Washington gave us special insight into the importance of discourse as part of learning to reason. This time, we’re hitting the road and heading all the way to Tampa, Florida and Thristene Francisco’s 6th grade language arts classroom. Here, we’re not only going to hear amazing student discussion, but we’re also going to learn how this teacher uses student-driven questioning as the foundation of the learning that happens in her classroom. Let’s get those wheels turning and travel on!

You’re invited to join us on a special Zaption tour of Thristene’s classroom, where we will not only take a closer look at her instructional moves, but we’ll also have a chance to learn from other teachers around the country by participating in the discussion feature on the tour. And, I’m telling you, just wait until you hear what kinds of insights these 6th graders are uncovering as they read!

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