Excerpts from the Diary of a First Year Teacher
by Mikki Loiselle (1992)
Dedication: For Jim, Kiddo and Pop. Thanks for your love
and support. Love Tallulah
P.S. Kiki, you too!
My First day was Wednesday the 18th.
There was a heat wave.
I felt excited, anxious, happy, scared, jittery, and helpless.
Would they like me?
Would I like them?
Nobody talked to me much.
I felt like an intruder.
Nobody would tell me what page we were supposed to be on in any of teacher's manuals.
We wrote a class Constitution. We made rules and consequences.
How do you take lunch count?
How do you keep a grade book?
"You're too strict."
"There are too many rules in here now."
"When is Mrs. McKenna coming back?"
"How long are you going to be here?"
I cried almost every night.
The days were long and my free time disappeared.
I got two death threats in my suggestion box.
I had a chair thrown at me.
I was told, "Take a hike lady!"
Only nine more months to go.
I was still crying, but not as much.
I started to find the things I needed.
I began to feel at home in my classroom.
We studied the Periodic Table of the Elements, molecules, atoms, chemical and physical change, and matter in science.
During reading we began the novel, The Witch of Blackbird Pond.
We learned about glyphs, frequency tables, pictographs, expanded notation, and roman numerals in math.
I had my first formal observations by Mrs. Pope and Mrs. Collinson, the Area III Director, while I had laryngitis.
We had a Quest for the Great Pumpkin. Only 8 people finished.
The leaves began to change colors and the weather went from hot to crisp.
We got a student teacher from Bowie State University--Ms. Nan Henry.
I found myself looking forward to school. It had finally become fun.
I couldn't believe how many things there were that I was supposed to teach by the end of the year.
Parent-Teacher conferences. I finally met my parents!!!!!!????? I was nervous. I had sweaty palms and couldn't sleep the night before. Only 2 parents didn't show.
We had a week of Drownproofing at the Arundel Swim Center. Float, breathe, use your P.F.Ds. Jump off the diving board. Swim a few laps. Use your shirt and pants to survival swim. The bus ride there and back was loud.
We made Thanksgiving baskets. It was easy for me, but not so easy for some of the students.
It was quite a sight to see 32 baskets all lined up.
Thanksgiving recess--a well deserved break for all of us.
I remember the volcanoes and glacier projects the most. We made our own miniature earthquakes, and we did experiments with beach erosion. We pretended the beach was Ocean City.
I had surgery on the 11th to remove the rod in my right leg.
Rachel Upton made me a "Get Well" banner and had all of the 5th graders sign it. I t made me cry.
I returned to school on the 18th. I was glad to be back. They were glad to see me.
They fought over who got to push me around in the wheelchair. They took good care of me. They told me, "We're glad you're back," and , "We missed you."
Our Christmas program was a great success.
We had a spectacular Winter Break party.
I got lots of presents and I felt very spoiled.
We strung popcorn and cranberries.
We watched the movie, "A Wish For Wings That Work."
I went to physical therapy and learned to walk again during the Christmas Break.
D.A.R.E. began with Officer Joel Gordon.
We finally finished our novel, The Witch of Blackbird Pond.
We grew our own crystals and studied fossils.
Our new media center had its grand opening.
Mrs. Nye began a unit on FAMILIES.
In math we learned the meaning of fractions.
Lindsey Schiesz bought me a birthday cake. The whole class signed a banner that said, "Happy Birthday Mrs. Loiselle." Everyone sang, "Happy Birthday." I loved that it was off key, and some people finished singing before others.
For the most part, January was a blur.
Mrs. Graas and I got an Instructional Aide named Gale Sharpe. She's a Godsend!!!!
We began a unit on plants in science.
We made terrariums. Some of the jars still smelled like pickles.
We studied black history.
I got a Secret Valentine. I found out later it was Katie Shaffer.
For Valentine's Day we had a party where we ate too many sweets and passed out valentines. For the first time in my life, I got Valentines that said, "to my Teacher."
Our Valentine's Day dance was cancelled due to snow. The only snow day we've had all year.
This is a leap year.
Started a unit on Aquatic Biomes in science.
We all brainstormed ideas for our P.A.W. Printer's stories.
Our class and Mrs. Conklin's class had a mini-science fair. Michael Stanley came in first place, Aaron Gough got second place, and Jenny Musitano received the third place award.
We had a St.Patrick's Day dance where not many people danced. I got to judge the dance contest. Eddie Gutierrez and Rachel Upton won.
It's beginning to warm up again.
Where has the school year disappeared to?
This month, most of the activities in our class revolved around work on our puppet show. The idea for the story was Aaron's. We worked in groups to write the script. All of the puppets had been made as part of a book report. The title of our show was, "A Problem in the Forest." It was about a Bald Eagle that's in danger of losing its home.
We made Easter eggs using starch, tissue paper, and balloons.
Congressman Steny Hoyer visited our classroom. I don't remember who asked, but I think they summed it up for everybody when they asked, "Don't you think he was kinda weird?"
We had a six day Easter vacation because teachers got furloughed. I got no pay later on because I was only a long-term substitute.
We began a novel called, Where the Red Fern Grows.
Our puppet show was a great success. We presented it to the entire school even though it had started out as a kindergarten play only. We got tons of letters thanking us. We were all very proud.
I can begin this month's entry, but I can't finish it because this book has to got to print.
We graduated from the D.A.R.E. program.
We survived the M.S.P.A.P.!!!!
I'm not sure what's going to happen from here on out. I'm not even sure if I will be here next year. I do know that my students will graduate and move on to the Middle School. I also know that I have had an effect on 32 students, and that those 32 students have had a great effect on me. I will never forget them or the experiences we've shared.
September 1997-When I left school that year I had to pack up all of my things because nobody was sure if I would return to Crofton the next year or not. But I did, and it was in great part due to the efforts of Nancy Gough and Diane Gallow who rallied a group of parents to petition the Board of Education, Mrs. Collinson in particular, to hire me as a permanent teacher at Crofton. I found this out the following year at new teacher orientation. Mrs. Collinson was talking to the group of new teachers about the trials and tribulations that many of us had gone through trying to be teachers in Anne Arundel County. She said ( as close as I can remember), "Mikki Loiselle at Crofton Elementary is very popular with the parents of her former students. They called and wrote me many times when they found out she might be replaced by an excessed teacher from another school." It really made me feel special to know that the parents appreciated me and wanted me to stay. Especially since so many of those parents were a little leery when Mrs. Pope first hired me.
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