First Day Stories: “I don’t feel transformational.”

Today’s First Day Story comes courtesy of Jasmine Ong, who found after her first day of teaching that the best laid plans can often go awry.


“I rehearsed my speech for a couple of hours right up to 1.30am yesterday, playing it in my mind: what I was going to say to my kids, how was I to introduce myself, what they need to do. Heck, I almost ran a red light trying to get it all right in my head for today. I just wanted everything to be PERFECT for them. However, by the end of my time with my class, I learned: that things don’t always go the way you plan. What was supposed to be a two-period lesson quickly took a turn for the worse when I had to take over for an additional two periods, substituting for their absent teacher.

Things that went well:

  • Standing at the entrance of the class welcoming them and allocating them seats; having sweets on their tables waiting for them
  • Reading out statistics to jolt them to reality (they were particularly angry at the stat that said: “The community and people around them think that they are failures”)
  • They wanted  to achieve the BIG GOAL (50% increase, 80% mastery) and understood my role as a teacher and how I will lead them to it
  • Sharing ideas and thoughts on how to improve the class

Things that did NOT:

  • Letting the “strict teacher” persona down and giving them a little freedom (thinking that it wasn’t my period anymore)
  • Playing games that involved to many steps and too many groups
  • Not employing proper class management techniques. As a result of this, students tried communicating with their friends outside of class, students were NOT at their seats when instructed, and students walked in and out of class towards the end of school, so I lost about I lost about 60% of my students at 12.55pm – school ends at 1.05pm

At the end of the day, I felt like the crappiest teacher alive. I failed to provide my students with a conducive environment to study in and they weren’t inspired enough to want to stay in class. After today, I dare not call myself a transformational teacher. I have failed to transform anything.

I really, really want these kids to do well. Meeting the same class for the 1st period tomorrow, let’s see how that goes.”