After graduating ITEPS in July I landed a job at a bilingual IPC school in The Netherlands. I am currently teaching a year 3 class with 25 children. Before the summer break I already knew that I got the job and I also met the class that was going to be mine very shortly. Before the summer started I have asked the school if they could provide me with some information or if there were things that I could already prepare. Unfortunately I did not get a response to this so I actually felt quite stressed about the start of the school year during my whole summer break.
After the summer break we had a week to set up the classroom and prepare some things before the children would come in. The one thing I found very hard was to make a seating arrangement since I did not really had a clue about which children I could or could not put together. I decided to let the children pick out their own place to sit. I told them that I would keep the seating like that if they could prove to me that it would work. Well, I think you can already guess that this was not the greatest idea. The first week was very hectic. Not only because all the children were sitting next to their best friends but also because we had to get used to each other and create routines together.
Since I already had a burn-out during my time at ITEPS I knew the first thing I had to do was set boundaries. Not only for the children but also for the parents and for myself. In the second week of school I already had a parent evening. The first thing I told the parents was that I would check and respond to my email during my time at school, not when I am at home. Luckily the parents were very understanding.
Fast forward 4 months later – I overcame quite some challenges already. From children with behaviour problems that would even get agressive, to children who tend to get too physical towards other children. But also very rewarding things like seeing children understand something that they did not understand before. I remember being at teaching practice and calling a class ‘’my class’’ but truly having your own class is a whole new world. It is hard work to get the children follow a specific routine and there is a lot of repetition happening. But the children give so much back. I cannot even count the amount of hugs I receive every day.
I am always being very honest with my children. They know what I expect from them and they also know what they can expect from me. Also if something happened I always discuss it with the whole class so other children can learn from it as well. So far I only cried once and this was in the very beginning when a situation between two children in my class escalated. I do feel insecure sometimes, then suddenly I am thinking ‘’am I doing enough for the children’’. And these are also things that I tell my children because I think it is important that they realize I am human as well.
Apart from the challenging start I feel very comfortable with having my own class. I like keeping things structured, especially when it comes to my classroom. With a room that has a red floor, an orange wall and a pink sink I think it is also quite comforting to keep the rest organised. The most important thing for me is that my children are happy and feel comfortable. They know that they can talk to me about anything and luckily most of them do (sometimes they share a bit too much). I do not see myself at this school for a very long time but it is definitely a great school for my first official year as a teacher.
The big question is of course; did ITEPS prepare me for this? And I can tell you that ITEPS pre- pared me for most things but that there are definitely a lot of things that I am just figuring out now.