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New Teacher Diaries

Giving voice to the smallest complaints

I am a high school English teacher that has it pretty good. What follows is my attempt to give voice to the smallest, most insignificant complaints imaginable from my first year.

It’s not your auntie’s classroom

I asked my aunt, a former teacher, for her sage advice before I started teaching. Her 40-plus years in education had taught her myriad lessons, many of which she passed on to me. But I still had a lot to learn.

Teaching - generic

Teaching is a calling— and I was called to teach

I couldn’t sleep the night before school. As a third-year teacher and a career changer, I sometimes still can’t believe I’m a special education teacher at the same public high school my daughter once attended.

Learning new language, keeping their culture

When we first met in September, BiBi was an entry-level English language learner and I was a new English as a New Language teacher. BiBi, a 5th-grader, was reluctant to learn, to speak a word of English or even to go over the English alphabet. She wanted to hold on to her home language. I totally understand this. Why should a child be stripped of her identity just because she is in another country? 


School Chorus

Sing a song of student engagement

My favorite way to study the art of teaching has been to watch other teachers in action. I sit in the back of their class, taking meticulous notes. One day, I went to watch my school’s chorus teacher.

Birds of a feather helped rookie take flight

Sparrows nesting above my school's front entrance listened exceptionally well and requested nothing in return. In their own small way, they kept me going long enough until I found what I needed within myself to do the job well.


Classroom circle

Helping an ELL student at square one

Antonio was a genuine, square-one beginner when I met him in my English as a New Language class in September. He was on time, seated up straight in the front row, smiling. He had been in this country for just weeks and he was clearly ready to learn. But was I ready to teach him?


Classroom circle

Don’t tell me my ELL students can’t achieve

Do not tell me my students cannot do math — and don’t let me tell myself that, either.

Mad followers, DMs and how Jay Gatsby slid into his crush

As a first-year teacher, any concerns I had about teaching students so close to my age faded during a recent discussion about "The Great Gatsby" in my 11th-grade English class.

Why art and music are essential

Art and music are the things we make when we want to tell the world that we are people. And expressing our humanity through music and art is what makes everything else worth it.