Sunday, August 27, 2000

A teacher's first day

First-day jitters aren't just for little kindergarteners

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

7 a.m.: Joy Thomas, 22, gets help from dad, George, a retired teacher and school administrator, as she leaves home.
(Gary Landers photos)
8:50: Looks over bus schedule before kids file in.

9:30: Organizes students for morning greeting.

[photo] 9:35: Reads to kids.
[photo] 11:54: Feigns exhaustion with fellow new teacher Sara Knight.
        Kindergarten teacher Joy Thomas was sympathetic to the 43 little kids attending their first day of school in her class Thursday. She was nervous, too.

        Never mind that Ms. Thomas, 22, who teaches at the Mason Early Childhood Center, came well-prepared. She had her teacher certification and degree from Miami University. As a student herself, she'd taught kindergarten and third grade for 16 weeks in the Sycamore school district.

        Her attitude on her first day at Mason: “Well, go with it. I think it'll be chaos.”

        It was. One child cried because she wasn't called on enough. Another wanted to know -- as soon as he arrived -- when it was time to go home. “I miss my mom,” he said. Another cried when he couldn't figure out which bus he was to go home on. And nearly all of the children -- with bobbing, raised hands -- wanted a slice of Ms. Thomas' attention.

        “I can tell you students have a lot of opportunities to be in the trenches and out in schools,” says Linda Olasov, interim associate dean for the School of Education at Northern Kentucky University. Aspiring teachers at NKU student-teach for almost a semester in another teacher's classroom. By the end of the semester, the students lead the classes themselves.

        Still, first days are always a challenge -- especially without a veteran teacher ready and waiting to immediately help.

        “Student teaching gives you a good idea how to deal with the kids, but it doesn't give you a good idea of the preparation involved to do these things,” Ms. Thomas says.

        “Now I'm responsible for myself.”

        And 43 little bodies.



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