Taking the Leap: A Year of Firsts (and one Second)

On one of my first days in grad school, which happened to be almost exactly a year ago from now, one of my professors taught me something that I will never forget.

That lesson started with a simple paper clip.


Now I know that some of you may be thinking, what on Earth could you learn with a paper clip?  I know that this was was my first reaction and it got me to thinking, what have I gotten myself into?  But let’s jump backwards a little…

My cohort was gathered in our classroom and eager to get started with our first semester in grad school.  In walked our professor and what did she have?  Paper clips and paper.  After the usual introductions and sharing of backgrounds she asked us to find a partner.  She gave us each 10 paper clips and a small piece of paper from a notepad.  At this point we were all looking at each other wondering where this was about to go.

Her instructions to us:  pick a grade level, select a mathematics concept, and design an activity for teaching that topic using only the paper clips and sheet of paper I have given you.


What now?

After our initial shock that we had to design a learning activity with only paper clips and a sheet of paper, we set to work.  Now, the actual activities we all created are not the important take home from this lesson.  As we began to share our ideas, the real take home of this lesson hit me like a ton of bricks.  You can design a lesson with just about anything that is available to you.  This type of learning experience is what became known to us as a “lesson within a lesson.”  What an eye opening experience for me to see that meaningful learning experiences do not require textbooks, expensive manipulatives, or worksheets.  Don’t get me wrong, all of these most certainly will play a role in my classroom – but more importantly, how will I use what I already know and what is available to me to create an interactive and successful learning environment?

As I prepare to enter my first year of teaching (I will be teaching 2nd grade), I have so many questions that may or may not have clear answers:
  • How do you set up a classroom for your first year of teaching?  But what about when you have little to no materials purchased?
  • What needs to be created prior to the first day?  What can be created as I go?
  • Which classroom management strategies will prove to be successful with my group of scholars?
  • How will my first group of scholars react to seeing me as their teacher?
  • Will I succeed during my first year of teaching?
  • How will I ever keep up with my first blog?!?

I have spent hours on Google and reading texts trying to find the answers to these and other questions.  The truth is, I have learned that there is no right or wrong, clear-cut answers  to these questions.  However, it is my hope that through this blog I can share my journey through my first year of teaching and give future educators a little insight on becoming a successful first year teacher.  As I move forward on my journey of many firsts, I welcome feedback, comments, suggestions, or just about anything else you’d like to throw my way!

One Comment

  1. Bryce! Call me and I will help you with whatever you need. I can help with any questions you might have.

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