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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: New Year's Resolutions

Week 16

I have heard it said -- and I have found it to be true -- that time flies when you're having fun. In September, I wasn't having much fun, and I was absolutely certain that I had entered the wrong profession. Each school day seemed like an eternity. Each night brought fears that I wouldn't make it through another day.

By October, however, I had begun to notice a gradual improvement. I became more involved with the students. I eagerly attended football games and pep rallies. My students began to bond with me as well. We spoke to one another several times during the day, not just during class, and they began to help me both in and out of the classroom.

On the last day before the Christmas holidays, I held a Christmas party for the students. As I cleaned up the last of the party remains, I began to reflect on the joys and pains of the previous semester. What I remembered helped me plan more effectively for the upcoming semester.

This week marks the beginning of a new year. It also brings the beginning of a new teaching term; and this term, as I switch from teaching literature to teaching grammar, I look forward to using -- and losing -- some of my old teaching techniques. For example, although I want to continue to be a strong disciplinarian, without having to write office referrals, my teaching methods will be more hands-on and feature more group activities.

This semester, I also want to become more disciplined and more patient. Last semester, I tended to become aggravated very quickly, especially when discipline problems arose. I hope the new year brings me a wave of patience, organization, and punctuality! All teachers admit that they constantly need to renew their levels of patience and improve their time management skills, but few admit to my personal problems with procrastination and tardiness. I am making a personal vow this semester to wake up 20 minutes earlier each morning, so I can plan for the day more effectively.

As the holiday break winds up and time to prepare winds down, I find myself waiting eagerly to see my students again. I look forward to seeing old faces with refreshed and eager minds. I plan to share my New Year's resolutions with them, and I hope they will do the same with me. Together, we can make this year even more fun -- and more productive -- than the last.

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Shaundalyn Elliot
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