Monday, February 10, 2020

My First Student

It was snowing outside this weekend, but I was snug, warm and had a mug of hot chocolate beside me. While I’m looking outside, I started to reminisce about my first day of teaching. I thought I would share this memory with you.

It was the first day of school for my students and I was excited. This was the start of my brand-new career and I was an elementary school teacher of a self-contained class for students with emotional disabilities.  This is what I had waited for all of my life to happen. Even when I was a young child, I had loved playing the teacher. I played school with other children as my students or my stuffed animals as my students. I love making up assignments and grading them. I knew in my heart at a early age that I wanted to be a teacher.

I had just spent the past few days learning about school policies and procedures. I had to gather furniture and figure out how to arrange my class. I met my new paraprofessional who had many years more experience in the classroom along with raising her three almost-grown sons. I shared my behavior plan and my own classroom procedures that I wanted the students to follow. Thankfully, she agreed and never once showed any doubts or concerns that I now believe that she probably had.

The first student to arrive was R. R. was a fifth-grader this year and was as tall as I was. He walked with a limp and I remembered reading in his file that he was diagnosed with bone cancer this summer and had his leg amputated. He was using his new prosthesis. With a huge smile on my face when he entered the classroom, I approached him to introduce myself as his new teacher. The next thing I know, he whips off his prosthesis and begins to chase me with it. There he is hopping on one leg trying to hit me with his other one while I was doing my best to get away from him.

Then I realized that I was the teacher and I was the one in charge! I turned around and put my hand up to tell him to stop. I told him that I was going to take his leg away if he was going to use it as a weapon! (How many teachers do you know have ever had to say that to a student?!)

Luckily, he stopped, put his leg down and burst into tears. When I got him calmed down, I learned that his previous teacher had promised him that she would be here when he returned. I told him that I didn’t know what happened to her but that I was very happy to be there and have him in my classroom.

We had a few rough patches and I did have to take away his “leg” one time, but I believe he was testing me to see if I would really do it. Once he realized that I was going to be consistent with my rules, he didn’t try to attack me again with it.  After that, we made it the rest of the year without too many traumatic events.

This was a memorable event for me, and I share it with many new teachers to let them know that anything can happen on the first day.

Do you remember your first day of teaching? If so, please share.

Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash

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