Friday, June 14, 2013

Well Done

Hey Friends,

Long time no post! I so badly wanted to post some end-of-the-year updates in the last couple of weeks but time really escaped me during that home stretch. I'm pretty excited to announce however, that I finished my first year of teaching on Friday, June 7, 2013. That's right I'm no longer a "first year" teacher! Don't worry, if you're wondering, I don't intend on changing the name of this blog. Instead, it will serve as a little keepsake and reminder that every year of teaching is kind of like your first year as no two classes are ever the same. Besides, now that my employment status is up in the air, who knows what grade I'll actually be teaching this upcoming school year (if I'm even able to land a job that is). I'm sure it will feel like I'm a first year teacher all over again.

I initially planned to write a reflective piece about my first year of teaching, actually I did in fact write it. The essay I wrote deeply looked at my past year documenting the struggles and challenges I faced with my overflow population, but after going back and forth, I decided not to share it. I made it a point to focus on the positives early on in the school year, at least when it came to this blog - a project I started for fun in grad school but have really grown to love and cherish as an on-going hobby and collection of unforgettable memories. I love reading back on old posts and remembering the special moments I shared with my very first classroom. I also love seeing the evolution of balance that I attempted to achieve while juggling a new career and trying to maintain a happy personal life. In keeping true to this spirit of the blog, I will continue to share my stories through a positive lens. After all, attitude is everything.

So in California, new teachers generally hold a preliminary teaching credential that they have to clear within 5 years (extensions can be granted). Although there are a few options available out there, I decided to go down the most well-traveled route via a two-year program called Beginning Teacher Support Assessment (BTSA) Induction. Taken from their website, BTSA engages preliminary credentialed teachers in a job-embedded formative assessment system of support and professional growth to fulfill the requirement for the California Clear Multiple Subjects credential. BTSA Induction programs are locally designed and implemented in accordance with the Standards of Quality and Effectiveness for Professional Teacher Induction Programs and aligned to the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.

I finished my first year of the program at the end of May and got to present my inquiry project looking at the effect of behavior interventions on student engagement and learning. Here's my list of pros and cons based on my experience with BTSA this past year.

Believe it or not, back in the day they used to pay teachers to go through BTSA. Nowadays you either pay yourself or if you're lucky, the district you work in will pay the program's costs for you.

The end of the school year was such a whirlwind. I had to get the last of my assessments done, start cleaning out my room, fill out my students' report cards and cumulative folders, and prepare for our "End of the Year Open House" celebration. I technically wasn't allowed to call it a kinder graduation because my team didn't feel we had enough time to prepare for one and consequently decided not to do anything. I felt strongly that it was right to end the year on a high note so I put together a little something anyway.

I invited parents to come in and celebrate with their child. Originally I had wanted to put together a slideshow for the parents in addition to having my students perform a poem and a couple of songs but the slideshow idea turned out to be a bit too ambitious. We still ended up having an adorable presentation by the kids. You can access the Kindergarten Poem and songs we sang here. I then handed them their certificates with their memory books and called it a day. I made a little photo opp wall for parents to take pictures of and with their kids. I also used some leftover sentence frames to make simple props that the kids could pose with.

Here were some of the memories that my students wrote about for the last page of their memory books. I asked them what their favorite thing about kindergarten was. I was pretty moved by some of the answers and even more so by how far their writing had come. These were the same little boys and girls that came to me at the beginning of the year not knowing how to hold a pencil or draw a detailed illustration. "This has to be what a proud parent feels like," I thought. Lucky me, I got to multiply that feeling times 18!

My favorite thing about kindergarten was watching the caterpillars turn into butterflies.

I liked when Ms. Lee taught me in kindergarten.

My favorite part of kindergarten was the letter of the week Ss.

My favorite thing about kindergarten was having a good teacher.

I like kindergarten because I get to play inside and learn.

My favorite thing about kindergarten was when my teacher helped us learn.

I like the rug.

My favorite thing about kindergarten was painting.

I like to paint in kindergarten.

My favorite thing about kindergarten was learning new words.

My favorite thing about kindergarten was when we found the Gingerbread Man.

My favorite thing about kindergarten was the 100th day of school.

My favorite thing about kindergarten was math.

I like kindergarten because I like the rug.

In kindergarten I liked learning about the letters of the week.

It was a tough, tough year, but I wouldn't change it for oh I don't know, a caterpillar. :)


  1. Congratulations Karen!! Calling it a "tough, tough year" seems like an understatement, so I'm impressed how much joy you were able to find and share here throughout the year. Thank goodness for summer break, right? Fingers crossed that your next assignment grants you a happier balance of effort and reward. Now that you made it through this first tough year, there's no classroom you can't manage!

    1. Thanks Julie! Yes, summer break rules but believe it or not, after a week I'm itching to get back into a classroom! :D