Stepping into her classroom at Murrayville-Woodson Elementary School, second-grade teacher Angel Ewing '17 felt a nervous excitement as she prepared to welcome her first class of students since her graduation in May.
As her students came in to the class, she wanted to put her’s and her students’ minds at ease, she said.
“I told them, ‘This is your first day in second grade; it’s mine as well, and we’ll get through it together’,” Ewing said.
She spent the first days of the new school year getting to know students and helping to establish a routine.
Her days start with a morning meeting, followed by going over the schedule for the day and an ice-breaking question before moving into academics. They end by going through students’ mailboxes with reminders for their parents and a recap of what they learned that day.
So far, the days haven’t been spent just on reading, writing, arithmetic and science but have included a lot of exercises intended to help everyone get to know one another.
At the start of every class, Ewing said, the class will do some group exercises to help her get to know the students and how they learn.
It’s a way to start the day without jumping right into academics. We’ll take the few minutes to go over the schedule and then we’ll answer a question. As the year goes on, it could be things like what they did over the weekend, their favorite book, just something to start a conversation. I want to learn their different personalities and learning styles to incorporate them into my lessons.
After a summer of nerves, Ewing said, she is ready to see how the year goes and learn as much as she can.
“There were a lot of ‘what ifs’?” Ewing said. “What if the kids don’t like me? What if I mess up? But the nerves have gone away.”
Now she is just trying to get her feet under her for the year and use her experiences as learning experiences.
Ewing said she always knew she wanted to be a teacher.
I remember looking at some old school stuff and seeing a report card where my teacher said, ‘Angel is so helpful in class’. I love working with kids; it makes me happy. I feel like being a teacher is what I’m meant to do.
Now she’s juggling 19 7-year-olds.
“It’s been fun. It’s a very energetic age group,” Ewing said of the first few days. “They like to talk, but I keep up and we’ve been having fun.”
Ewing graduated from Illinois College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She said she is excited to be using her degree.
Between a class-organization binder she used during her classes at IC and her lessons, Ewing said, she believe she has everything she needs.
And, she said, the other teachers have been extremely helpful.
“Coming in the first day, my nerves went away a little,” Ewing said. “The staff has been so supportive. The third-grade teacher is my mentor and she’s been so supportive and helpful, as well.”
She’s learning not to worry as much about making mistakes or to beat herself up over every little thing.
“We started Leader in Me and, during the training, our presenter told us to be gentle with ourselves,” Ewing said. “I can be an over-thinker and can be hard on myself. They told us that it’s OK to take time for self-reflecting but that we have to let go of the little things.”
Now that she has her foot in the door, Ewing is excited to see where the road leads.
I want to be that teacher that, when they look back, they remember me and say I was a good teacher.