Update on the little girl

Thanks for all your kind comments on the last post.

It's interesting that Laura commented that her first year of teaching was probably her best. I just can't resist the notion that even the best intentions in the world can't make up for experience. Today Lena told me that Miss Smith warned the class that if they got three checkmarks on the board (for bad behavior) she would cancel recess. But when the third check came, she said that if they got one more, there would be no recess. First, cancelling recess for the whole class is a baaaaad idea, in my opinion. These kids need recess! But second, and worse, she should not have changed her mind. What do you think? Other teachers out there, what was your first year like? My husband's first year, teaching in a charter school in Detroit that was also brand-new that year, was horrendous. Trial by fire.

Anyway, the little girl in the last post? On the second day of school -- yesterday -- they transferred her to the other first grade class, with a teacher who's been around the block a bunch of times. My feelings are mingled: relief and pity.


  • Well, it's a mix. My first year teaching (English and Reading to sixth graders), I did make a bunch of typical first year teaching mistakes, much like the new teacher you describe. (Cancelling recess as a punishment is definitely a bad idea.) But I also had all this energy and enthusiasm -- and I think that made up for my lack of expertise. I think the issue is not so much whether or not the teacher is new or experienced, but what kind of teacher she is. I know lots of veteran teachers who are set in their ways who are just dreadful.

    posted by Blogger jo(e) on 7:38 PM  

  • My first year of teaching I was hired two days before school started and I had a 2nd/3rd grade split. I didn't have bookshelves. The supply cabinet in my classroom had been raided so I didn't have math manipulatives or books. Despite all that, it was an amazing year. I made A LOT of mistakes. But I also learned a lot and so did my students. And two years later when I taught fifth grade, I had all those third grade students again, so I guess I did an okay job! Give her a chance - she will make mistakes, every first year teacher does, but she will continue to grow and improve as a teacher as the year goes on.

    posted by Blogger NixieKnox on 7:39 PM  

  • I agree with Joe. Experience is great, especially with discipline, but it's probably more about who you are than how long you've been doing it. I hope my first year really wasn't my best--i hope that year is still to come, cause if it isn't, what the heck am I doing? But I dislike the jaded attitude that seems to creep over teachers after a few years (but then, for some, it's weeks, and then for others, it never happens.)

    posted by Anonymous Laura on 7:55 PM  

  • I've seen some first year teachers run rings around the seasoned vetrans and I've seen others fail miserably. Those who are born to teach seem to do just fine their first year, those who are teaching because "it's a good job for a woman" or "to get the summer off" or "something to do till I get pregnant" have a horrid first year. Us old timers can predict a teacher's sucess within the first week or two of school!

    Taking recess away for the entire class this early in the year isn't a good idea, esp. for such little ones. But changing her mind and giving them another chance is an even worse one. That lets the class know she is a pushover. HOpefully she's got a good mentor who can help her out. Classrooom management is NOT something you learn much about in teacher school.

    posted by Blogger GuusjeM on 8:32 PM  

  • I HATE (and I don't like using the word hate) that a whole class is disciplined for a few unruly children. Hate it. The troublemakers usually then will make trouble just to get the whole class in trouble and they usually don't care! UGH!

    And I agree about her looking like a pushover now. BAD IDEA to change your mind and give them 'one more chance'.


    posted by Blogger Adrienne on 9:18 PM  

  • Stick to your guns, even if you shouldn't have fired it. :) Kids need someone who means what they say.

    posted by Blogger mrsd on 11:22 PM  

  • Wow, that would be tough to respond to as a parent. What did you say to your daughter about it?

    posted by Blogger purple_kangaroo on 3:59 AM  

  • Golly, what a hard one! Sounds like the new teacher needs some mentoring, or a response would probably be to get in and make friends with her, and see if I could give her a hand from there. I agree with everyone who has commented here saying that punishing the wole class is not the best of ideas, and that punishing by taking away their down time is even less of a good idea, but then to realise it half-way, and instead of saying "oh, OK, I shouldn't have said that" and back down with an apology to say "one more and _then_ you get the punishment" need discipline, and adult leadership from the adults, and part of that is admitting mistakes, aplogising and fixing them up.

    Good discussion topic Julie, thanks for having an interesting life for us!

    Looks liek the word verification is keeping the spam down...

    posted by Blogger Mummy/Crit on 9:55 AM  

  • I know, everyone makes mistakes. And Miss Smith is on a steep learning curve right now. I know from my husband's experience that student teaching does not prepare you very well for the real thing. And she clearly has her heart in the right place.

    Still, one of the points I meant to make in the original post was the surprising fact that my daughter even mentioned this. She does not usually give such detailed reports about her day. And in fact, after she told the story she said (so sweetly), "But maybe that's not what she said. Maybe I wasn't paying very close attention." Pause. "But I was looking right at her when she said it." Interesting that this incident made such an impression on her.

    I will be helping in the classroom once a week. I'll keep you posted.

    posted by Blogger Julie on 12:29 PM  

  • Geez, did the teacher just miss discipline 101 or what? Of course, I grew up in the days where spanking, paddling, and duckwalking were allowed. So this is better--but she is in for it!

    posted by Blogger Running2Ks on 10:28 PM  

  • Yeah, canceling recess is a bad idea, but I also just hate, hate, hate the idea of group punishment.

    I feel for teachers, though, I honestly have no idea how I would control a large group of children who aren't much interested in sitting still and listening to something they aren't particularly interested in, much less how to discipline them.

    posted by Blogger Linda on 11:48 AM