From August 2022 to May 2023 I served as a teacher with The Educator Academy, an AmeriCorps partner. I was placed in a 1st-grade classroom at Phillis Wheatley Elementary. Serving my students and their families has brought me so much joy and fulfillment. Here are some of the highlights!
1. Watching Students Feel Successful
First grade is difficult. Students make one of the greatest cognitive leaps of their lives: learning to read and write. There is something very special about witnessing a student feel successful. Something clicks, they realize they can do hard things, and they light up. It is the type of feeling you want to bottle up (for them and you!) to keep moving forward through difficult times.
2. Finding My Teacher Voice
Not too strict, not too soft. Since the start of the year, I have been working on finding a teacher voice that works and also feels authentic. It came with time, a lot of self-reflection, and coaching from my The Educator Academy mentor teacher and coach. Finding my teacher voice gave me confidence and a better grasp of the classroom. It made a big difference in the way my students responded to me and their ability to learn from me.
3. Feeling Supported
There are a lot of moving parts to serving in my school community. I have had to develop and refine skills, break unhelpful habits, and learn a whole lot. Having high-quality support from my coach, mentor teacher, fellow AmeriCorps members, and other The Educator Academy staff to navigate my year of service made a big difference. Not every day is easy, but I worked through every challenge knowing a network of people was there to guide and accompany me.
4. Family-Teacher Conferences
Bragging to grown-ups about their students is one of the greatest feelings I have had serving in the classroom. Our students do hard things every day. They work hard, they make mistakes, and they come back to fix them. Celebrating their progress with their families and making plans to continue moving forward together is such a moving experience.
5. Implementing Impactful Strategies in the Classroom
Learning about instructional strategies, making plans, and seeing them make a difference in students’ learning is a powerful experience. It showed me I can make a positive impact on my student’s learning and fueled my own desire to keep learning and improving my practice.