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Shaundalyn Elliott's Diary
The First 180 Days

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Shaundalyn Elliott, a recent college graduate, always dreamed of being a corporate lawyer. Her deep feelings of responsibility to the minority students in her hometown led her instead to a teaching position at her alma mater, an urban middle school in Montgomery, Alabama. Each week during this school year -- Shaundalyn's first year in the classroom -- she will share with Education World readers her thoughts and feelings about her first 180 days!

Shaundalyn's Diary: Falling in Love

Week 8

Just as I had hoped, this week went much smoother than last week. In fact, this week's events might have persuaded me to return to the teaching profession next year after all!

Monday was an in-service day for teachers. We gathered at the school at 8 a.m. for breakfast; then, at around 8:30, we went to departmental meetings. In my department head's absence, I conducted the English department's meeting on the importance of developing lessons that correlate with the Alabama Course of Study, the SAT 9, and the Alabama High School Graduation Exam. Following our departmental meetings, the teachers assembled in the school library for small-group meetings and presentations. We were also treated to a variety of speakers, including a representative from the Lighthouse Foundation, a council for domestic abuse.

When the students returned on Tuesday, I began a unit on poetry. I had forgotten that the assistant principal would be coming in that day to do an official observation. When she came into my fourth-period class, I explained to the students her reason for being there and immediately moved into the poetry lesson. After explaining the notes I had prepared, I introduced the students to poetry by allowing them to listen to various songs to identify the rhyme schemes. The assistant principal loved the idea! In fact, she came back after my students and I went to lunch, just to enjoy the music! Needless to say, I was very pleased.

I was excited about my fun plans for Friday, October 13. When the students came into the classroom, it was completely dark. No one questioned this because the overhead exercise was on, as it usually is. After the exercise, I left the lights off, however, and explained my plan to the students. They were as excited about it as I was! We were going to read The Highwayman, by Alfred Noyes -- a spooky, romantic poem about two lovers who were killed before they could be together. I was the narrator, and the students provided the sound effects. It was so much fun! After the reading, the students even applauded my performance! Next, I allowed them to hear the poem read by a male narrator. They loved that even more. It was definitely a spooooky Friday!

Every day that I go to work, I learn a little bit more about myself. When I look back to the beginning of the year, I am amazed at how much I have grown and how much the students have grown on me. Some days I feel overjoyed about being depended on for everything, and some days I feel overwhelmed. I'm learning to accept the fact that teaching is one of those professions that you gradually fall in love with. I have to admit that I think I'm almost there. Once I get there, I don't think I'll ever leave.

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Shaundalyn Elliot
Education World®
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10/19/2000