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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: All the School's a Stage

Week 10

Teaching is a profession filled with uncertainty. On those days when a teacher feels too overwhelmed to go forward, one student makes it all worthwhile.

This week, I was amazed at my new attitude toward school. I've really started to look forward to seeing those same faces I had dreaded seeing during the first two months of school, and I eagerly anticipate making my debut on stage every day (that is how we refer to teaching in my classroom!), especially since we've begun our unit on poetry.

Earlier this week, we studied Robert Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee," an eerie but funny tale of two friends searching the Arctic trail for gold while one battles the idea of having to cremate the other. I turned the lights down to set the mood. Then I changed the tone of my voice and read the narrator's parts very softly, and the students took turns reading the other stanzas. The students enjoyed it so much. In fact, they were so involved that when I raised my voice during a really scary part, they all jumped and screamed. I was totally delighted. Needless to say, almost everyone scored 100 on the quiz for that story.

Besides teaching the lessons, I truly enjoy interacting with the students. They are really a joy sometimes. I have noticed that whenever I assign a student to oversee a specific task, everyone stays on task in hopes of being in charge next time.

I've also noticed that when I ask for help, the whole room volunteers. That tells me two things. First, it shows me that the kids like and respect me enough to want to make my job as easy as possible. It also tells me that I am doing a great job of raising them to be ladies and gentlemen. This is especially true of the boys. Whenever a female student or I attempt to carry or lift something heavy, at least two young men come forward to help. I am so happy that I came on so strong at the beginning of the year. It has truly paid off!

Yesterday was a good day, but it turned sad when my fifth-period class ended. One of my favorite students had to say good-bye because her family is moving away. She hugged me as tightly as she could, and I followed suit as I wished her the absolute best in life. I know she will make a major contribution to society. She is really going places! Good luck, Emily!

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Shaundalyn Elliot
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