A Year in the Life of a New WL Teacher
Following French teacher Leah Hunt Through Her Second Year of Teaching
Lesley A. Chapman, Sycamore High School French Teacher, OFLA Beginning Teachers Committee Chair
Do you remember your first few years of teaching? Do you remember the exhaustion, the insecurities, and trying to keep your head above water? It’s safe to say that today’s beginning teachers have a lot more on their plates than I ever did when I began my career in the 90s. Between RESA, OTES, SLOs, and keeping up with the state standards, beginning teachers have a lot of balls in the air.
Leah Hunt is a second year French teacher at Sycamore High School. She teaches part time, but has three (yes THREE) preps: French I, II, and III. I am her mentor at Sycamore, and I will be writing a series of articles where I follow her in her second year of teaching.
LC: You are in your second year of teaching. So far, what differences do you see in your teaching between last year and this year?
LH: Well, my understanding of students is much greater. I understand the sequencing of courses, where they are coming from and where they need to be. I don’t feel as “in the dark” as I was last year. I have been able to refine my questioning techniques, as well. Through trial and error, I have learned what works and what doesn’t. I’m still learning, of course. I would say I’m more confident this year than I was last year.
LC: Have you made any specific changes to your teaching this year?
LH: Yes! I have been modifying things that did not work last year. I am trying to always keep the standards of communication in mind, basing my lessons on those. I have also begun planning further ahead so that I always feel prepared for class. This has really helped me.
LC: Explain a little about a second year teacher’s responsibilities outside of the classroom?
LH: Well, as beginning teachers, we have a lot of the same things most other teachers have to do, such as writing SLOs and preparing for OTES. The difference with us is that we are also required to go through the Resident Educator Summative Assessment (RESA) program, which is a four-year program for new teachers in Ohio. It requires a number of meetings, observing other teachers, collaborating with my mentor, being observed myself. It’s a lot of time.
LC: How are you managing all of this?
LH: I’ve been prioritizing. My classroom teaching comes first. But for the rest I simply keep track of my deadlines for all requirements, be it SLO, OTES, or RESA.
LC: What has been your biggest struggle so far?
LH: Well….hmm…..I have a lot of those! I would say I need the most help with classroom management. It has been difficult for me to remain firm and consistent in my expectations. I am getting better though. It’s a work in progress.
LC: In what area have you made the greatest gains?
LH: I would have to say assessments. I owe this to the great work the state of Ohio has done in helping prepare us for assessing the standards using IPAs. I have been to multiple workshops and the OFLA conference in Columbus, where assessment has been my focus. At Sycamore we have been using IPAs for over a year, and I find them so beneficial to my teaching.
LC: So, what are some of the goals you have set for yourself this year?
LH: I would like to continue working on my classroom management skills, and I would love to see myself hit the 90% use of the target language in each of my three classes. I’m working on both every day.
It is clear that Leah has a lot on her plate, as do all beginning teachers in Ohio. We look forward to catching up with her later in the year, to learn how things have progressed for her. A la prochaine!