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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: Class Spirits!

Week 11

Just as I expected, the students were unusually excited this week. I attributed most of their high spirits to Halloween and assumed the rest stemmed from the fact that our school's junior varsity football team would be competing in a bowl game for the city championship title at the end of the week.

For the most part, my assumptions proved correct. In fact, on Tuesday (Halloween), I had a difficult time getting the students to focus on the lessons at all. They were so excited by the prospect of trick-or-treating that I had to give an unusually large amount of written work just to keep them busy.

This week, we began our unit on spelling, and I gave my first spelling test. The students seem to grasp the concept of spelling and phonics far better than I expected them to. In fact, so many students scored 100 on the spelling test that I had to wonder whether it was because they had memorized the words by drawing vivid pictures in their mind. When I return to school on Monday, I plan to address this with the students. Sometimes I learn so much about them just by listening to them. If they are simply memorizing the spellings of the words, I will have to develop mnemonic devices to help them understand phonics and word pronunciations along with the spelling.

By Thursday, all my classes were filled with bubbly personalities and excited hearts in anticipation of the bowl game our school was to play that day against a city rival. A couple of other teachers and I decided to show our school spirit by attending the game, and the students were elated to see us there. In some ways, it also marked a return to my youth. These types of events are what make teaching at Goodwyn, at my alma mater, especially rewarding. Next year, I look forward to doing it again!

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Shaundalyn Elliot
Education World®
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11/09/2000