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Shaundalyn Elliott's Diary
The First 180 Days


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: 'Heeere They Come!'

Week 2

After reading The First Days of School, by Harry and Rosemary Wong, I was sure I was ready for the classroom. I had gone through the chapters on first-day greetings, classroom management, and lesson planning, but nothing could prepare me for what really was to come on my first day of school.

I woke up at 5 a.m. on the morning of August 28. Wondering if there had been a terrible mistake, I questioned myself. Was I really supposed to be teaching? Was I really prepared for what was to come on that day? Had I done everything I was supposed to do that night before? Would the children be able to tell that I was a first-year teacher? I was becoming overwhelmed by my own thoughts before I had even gotten out of bed.

At 7 a.m., I arrived at my school. Goodwyn Junior High looked and smelled exactly the same. The only difference was that I was now a teacher, not a student. I had to keep reminding myself of this fact as I walked upstairs to my room. On the way there, I was greeted by a host of my old teachers who repeatedly shouted triumphant cheers to inspire me.

Once I reached my room, I pretended to go through the motions of running my own class. I tried to recall every fact and piece of advice that I had ever read or received. As the hour grew closer to 8 a.m., I struggled to keep my composure. Just when I was certain I had lost it, my cooperating teacher from my internship appeared at the door. She reassured me, "You are ready, very ready because this is what you have been waiting for. Believe me, you are ready." When she went back to her room, I prayed for more strength. When the 8:00 bell rang, she yelled to me from across the hall, "Heeere they come!"

The moment I saw the first face enter my room, I was convinced that I was in the right place. I immediately assumed the role of a teacher. I guided the children into my room, introduced myself, outlined my expectations, and my rules regarding discipline. It was second nature.

By the end of the day, I eagerly anticipated the days and weeks to come. By the end of the week, I couldn't believe that this was a job that I would actually be paid to do.

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Shaundalyn Elliot
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