First year teacher learning the routine

Published 11:53 pm Saturday, August 21, 2010

Second grade teacher Ashley Walker, right, answers questions from Rayshun Foreman, left, and Ciara Dukes, right, about the reading assignment. Walker is a first year teacher at Meadowview Elementary School.--Laura Fenton photo

Second grade teacher Ashley Walker is like a border collie. She herds her students to lunch, the library or for class bathroom breaks. She directs students where to walk, but lingers near the back to watch for stragglers. She even sits with them at lunch, listening to the jokes and banter of the students.

For Walker, teaching is a constant balance of keeping students mentally and physically on task, but that’s part of the joy of teaching.

“I want them to be unique in their own selves,” Walker said. “I try to let them have that open space to do their own thing, but within a realm.”

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This is Walker’s first year as a teacher, and she quickly found the realities of her daily tasks are not what she was taught in her elementary education classes at Concordia College Selma.

“College, it gives you a snip-it of it, a little taste, but not actually the involvement,” Walker said. “A lot of people have the false sense that education is easy, but until you are actually involved and actually see the day to day grind of how it happens and how it unfolds, it takes a lot.”

Walker taught as an assistant for five years at Knox Elementary and one year at Selma Middle CHAT Academy, but the responsibly of full-time teaching is much larger.

“At one point you are just helping along, but now you are the person that is over instructing them every day and over making sure they know what they’re supposed to know and are responsible for what they supposed to know,” Walker said. “It’s exciting. I’m still on the high of being a new teacher.”

To ease the transition to the school routine, second grade teacher LeAnne Moseley mentors Walker.

“For a brand new, first year teacher, I am amazed,” Moseley said. “She is great and has had no problems.”

Moseley is there for support if Walker needs help, but most of her duties are to remind Walker of dates paperwork is due, meeting times and acclimate her to life at the school.

“When people have been at this school, or any school for a while, you kind of know the routine of we go to lunch this way and we go to P.E. this way,” Moseley said. “Being a mentor lets the new teachers learn the pace and day-to-day routines of the school.”

Walker has picked up on habits from fellow teachers and classroom experiences to keep her classroom orderly.

On the first day of school, she started a routine for when they line up at the door. Row one walks clockwise around the desks to the door as row two and three follow, a habit engrained in students by the eighth day of school.

“If I did not say that the first of school, they would all just take off and get in line,” Walker said.

Despite the many rules, students such as Kyndal Smith, 7, still enjoy being in Walker’s class.

“She takes care of us and makes sure we are being safe,” Kyndal said. “She’s a very nice teacher.”