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New Teacher Diaries

Let’s not lose sight of our ‘why’

In mid-March, all teachers were faced with the challenge of continuing to serve and support their students from a distance due to COVID-19. As a second-year speech teacher, I have struggled to figure out, with little training and guidance, how to translate a full schedule of face-to-face therapy into a full schedule of tele-therapy.

Avoiding flying dictionaries

For students struggling with literacy in their home language, an English dictionary is more of an obstacle than an aid.

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 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? 


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.


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?


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.