A Reflection: My First Semester teaching in the USA

It's safe to say this hasn't been a typical first term for anyone. 2020 has thrown more obstacles at us than a primary school sports day. Having moved across the pond, I've only heard about and imagined how teaching has been for many in the UK. My teacher friends and the delightful commentaries of edutwitter have left me feeling very sympathetic to those in such risky situations but doing the job they love to the best of their ability. 

Not only was this a term for change thanks to a global pandemic, it was also a big change for me as I started my first teaching role in the USA. I am working as an Associate Teacher in first grade at an amazing private school that was able to teach in person for the first 12 weeks of the semester (term). 

Unlike the UK, not all schools were able to go back to in-person teaching and have been remote since the middle of March! I am very fortunate to have been in a school that could safely open with social distancing, small class sizes, mask-wearing, constant hand washing etc. We had no confirmed cases in school during the whole time we were open thanks to these measures. 

As hard as the semester has been, I've loved every minute of it. I work in a supportive school with great staff and amazing children who took to all the new safety rules almost effortlessly. They were so engaged in learning, many often wanted to hurry through outdoor mask breaks to get on with the fun stuff! 

Teaching in first grade is incredibly rewarding - seeing the progress almost overnight and the resilient nature of these small humans is truly inspiring. I've introduced some white rose hub activities and different ways of teaching math which were successful and great fun. I've learned so much from other teachers when observing them teach and planning together. 

My main challenge has been phonics thanks to my 'posh' British accent. When supporting emergent readers and writers, I'm attempting an unimpressive American accent which we all giggle about. I'm also catching myself having to translate certain words - crisps = chips, jumper = sweater, rubber (a naughty word if I were teaching older kids!) = eraser... the list could go on but the blank faces staring up at me have unknowingly been learning British English alongside their Spanish lessons (luckily not taught by yours truly). 

Since Thanksgiving at the end of November, we have gone to remote learning. It was something we'd been preparing for since opening at the end of August with no idea when we'd have to move remote. So far, I'm actually enjoying the remote experience. Since I wasn't able to work the last lockdown, I didn't live through the sudden rush, the dread, and many sleepless nights to go remote. I felt ready and I still think we're smashing it. 

I'm enjoying being able to provide more small group work, the lack of face masks, and the more personalised learning approaches. Mind you, I say this after one week in... I do miss seeing them in person and I will be so excited and happy to get back together, hopefully in the new year. Otherwise, there may be another blog post about the trials and tribulations of long term remote learning - please no!!

How has your term been? Any new challenges or victories? I'd love to hear about your experiences. 

First Semester in the USA
Check out my TES shop for great lesson plans, ActivInspire flip charts, and worksheets.


Popular posts