Author: The Hummingbird's Journal

My Least Favorite Part About Being a Teacher

As an aspiring poet, I wanted to become alluring. As a teacher-to-be, I soon figured out that the mystery within allure does not help the teacher. As I teach, I gravitate toward speaking sentences that will help set an atmosphere of connectivity. Mystery in the education setting creates barriers and misunderstandings. My humanity is behind my mystery, and students need to be able to see that.

To get my students’ attention, I usually ask them questions that will allow them to share their experiences. I’ll ask questions like the following. Who has been bullied? Who has bullied? Who has witnessed a classmate be bullied? I want them to see that they have similarities. And if they don’t, I want them to learn from each other’s experiences about things that have been unexplained to them such as why do students bully.

First-Year Teaching Advice: The Best Piece of Advice

ConfidentI remember the worries I felt before I started my teaching internship. Would students like me? Would students be smarter than me? Would I be able to manage all the tasks required of a teacher such as turning in grades and weekly less plans on time, attend all faculty meetings, and have enough energy and patience to teach six classes that for the most are back to back. The answer to all of these questions became yes.

If I could go back in time, and give myself only one piece of advice for my first-year teaching it would be to show up with my best attitude and put in my best effort. Back then I would have probably said, What if I don’t have years of experience? What if a student rebels and refuses to follow classroom rules? What happens if I don’t turn in grades or lesson plans on time? Even though all of these scenarios happened to me, I learned from them, and I moved on.

First-Year Teaching Advice: The Importance of Reflection

Girl & DeskReflection over my first-year teaching is what allows me to step back and look at what has and hasn’t been working. There have been days when I remember that quote by Albert Einstein: The definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviors and expecting a different outcome. I’m especially reminded of it when I reflect over my rookie use of classroom management skills and discipline strategies.

When I stepped back and realized how many of my students were having problems with each other, I incorporated a unit on bullying. It took me a while to see that my class with the most behavior problems would benefit from having all materials ready on their desks—despite having seen and helped teachers, I worked with in the past, use this strategy. It took me a while to realize that my second class of the day, which unlike most of my classes has about 20 students, needed a seating chart. It took me a while to understand that I was becoming unhappy because I took grading home with me, so I figured out ways to grade during school hours.

First-Year Teaching: A Reflection

Books & BookshelfAs the Oklahoma teacher walkout enters its fifth day, I am reflecting over my first-year teaching, and what I need to improve when school is back in session. It’s difficult to be raw and honest about my experience of my first-year teaching because as much as I want it to look flawless and inspiring both in writing and in real life, if there’s anything teaching has taught me is that it’s not perfect and it most definitely isn’t glamorous.

My greatest frustration as a teacher is the sense of overwhelm I feel. Last year in an interview my interviewer, a school principal, said that if you’re the type of person who likes to finish checking off to-do lists then teaching is not for you because you will never finish checking off all of the to-do list. As you probably already know, she is right in the sense that teachers have lots do. What I miss about my past jobs is that as soon as I clocked out, I didn’t have to worry about work anymore. There was no work to take home with me. With this teaching job there’s always something I can work on: lesson plans, emails to parents, grading, read essays, tasks from my administrators, etc. Little by little, I am learning how to not let this job take all of my energy and my time.

Tio Beto

Luis Alberto Urrea
Luis Alberto Urrea

I have a new favorite author, and I am absolutely grateful for The New York Times, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s recent book review of The House of Broken Angels, and of course one of my five free “ARTICLES REMAINING” left. As I read Nguyen’s book review, I found myself thinking I’ve never read this type of book which has character names like Big Angel, Mama America, and Minnie. The review spoke to my Mexican-American identity, so I bought the book that same day, and I’m reading it at a slow place—not because I don’t like it, but because I love to savor my books, especially the good ones (and I also probably have a short attention span).

After I read Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, I thought it’d be hard to find an author that could ever be as cool or funny as him, and I was wrong. I have found an author which I think is just as cool as Diaz, and his name is Luis Alberto Urrea.