Savina Vargas, 6th Grade Math/Science Teacher at Alpha: José Hernández
April 11, 2018
I did not dream of becoming a teacher.
Being a teacher was something that I did not see myself doing. What I didn’t realize was that with my previous experience, I was always teaching in some shape or form.
When I joined Alpha over a year ago, I enjoyed being back in the community where I grew up, and it made me feel good that I was helping to support it. When I then transitioned to become a teacher, I felt that I would do a decent job because I had worked with some of the students already, and supporting the students was one of my strong suits. However, after the first day of teaching I felt absolutely defeated. I felt that I wasn’t ready for the job and that maybe I had made the wrong decision.
My colleagues were extremely supportive and even with their amazing words of encouragement, I realized it was the first of many days where I would feel as if I couldn’t do it. That I wasn’t good enough.
You’re more than a teacher. You’re an advocate for learning.
I remembered that though this may be my first year of teaching, I had always taught in some shape or form and that I needed to see the moments worth remembering. I realized very quickly that I was not just going to teach my 6th graders Math and Science, but that I was to teach them how important education is, by helping them identify their strengths and how to develop their weaknesses into strengths. In order to do so, I needed to build a strong classroom culture.
Importance of classroom culture.
Culture to me is bringing people’s views from different walks of life, coming together as one. Without classroom culture, my students wouldn’t want to come to my class. They wouldn’t want to learn, to express concerns that go beyond their academics, and just to have fun when given the chance. In order to build classroom culture, I needed to better understand my students. I needed to find opportunities where I could see how my students are feeling so that I could better support them.
One way I found success was by holding intervention groups. My intervention groups have done tremendous work. I have seen a lot of growth in my students. I have students who use this as a chance to ask me more one-on-one questions. It gives them time to focus more in a quiet, smaller environment. This has resulted in my class’s data on Exit Tickets to continue to go up and up.
Reflections throughout my first year.
I have learned a lot in the past year and it’s certainly been a rollercoaster. I’ve listened more, reflected more, and adjusted my methods to cater to my students’ needs. I was able to find systems for my class that worked because of the advice and encouragement I have received from others.
If I could give words of advice to a new teacher, it would be to not be afraid to show your soft side to students. Show them that you are human too, and that can go a long way.
For veteran teachers, you come with a wealth of knowledge and experience that new teachers would love to hear. Because just like our students, teachers need to learn too.
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