Hello! I welcome children, adults, teachers, and anyone in between to my new blog. My name is Jenny and I am a 5th grade teacher in East San Jose, California. I just finished my first year teaching and am currently relaxing/getting my life back together on summer break. For those of you teachers out there, I hope you remember (or maybe try not to remember) how hard your first year teaching was. The rewards of teaching are exponential, but you definitely have to go through battle to get there. I know I am not the only one out there, but I tend to say my battle was a little bit longer than most.
Just to tell you a little bit about myself, I knew I wanted to be a teacher since the 2nd grade. My favorite teacher in the world was my 2nd grade teacher and her name was Mrs.Cook. My mom was also a teacher for the visually impaired so I have teaching skills in my blood. I went to school at the University of Texas and went through a 2 year education program specializing in ESL studies and low-socio economic schools. After graduating, I applied for Teach for America to join the movement that was helping to close the achievement gap. I was accepted into the Bay Area region and moved to San Jose, California where my fiance and I now live. The desire to teach has been burning inside me for a good 15+ years now. You can only imagine how excited I was to finally see my classroom where I was going to be THE TEACHER. I am definitely that dorky girl who went to the teacher store 167 times before the first day of school and had stickers, charts, bulletin boards, library reading corners, and absolutely everything set up. Or so I thought. It might be my personality or truly the intensity of the job, but my first year teaching was SO HARD. I guess I really didn't see it coming because I thought my passion and desire to teach would lead me through the hard times, but let me tell ya...there were some really hard times. At the same time, I loved my students as if they were my own and will never forget a single first or last name for the rest of my life.
This brings me to my next point that a lot of my problems were not with my students. My problems were with the actual school system and my district. I had a scripted curriculum which means I am given a mandatory teacher's manual that I pretty much have to read from. It tells me what I am supposed to do every single day and I am not to deviate from that path. For a girl who had the desire and passion to teach since I was little, this was definitely a bummer. I tried to make the best of it by adding in my own supplemental curriculum, but I was pretty much killing myself with work overload. There were other various rules and regulations that I had to deal with this year that were a wet cloth to my fire. Unfortunately, I lost a lot more of my passion for teaching than I had expected. This is a pretty devastating feeling to accept when I had truly thought that I would be a teacher for 30+years of my life.
I started my summer break thinking that I would truly take some time away from work. It only took me a day to realize this was not what I wanted. I did not want to ignore what I had loved (or thought I loved) for so many years. My fiance has been the most amazing support system for me throughout the past year and has helped me discover the likes and dislikes to my job. The second day of summer he asked me what I had truly loved about teaching. I thought for a long while through all the years of school and all of my teachers. I finally came down to my memories of elementary school and replied to my fiance, "Reading! I absolutely love reading!" Instantly, my thoughts started bubbling and I had this idea to reread my favorite children's book, Charlotte's Web. But not only that, I decided to read the NY Times 25 bestselling children's novels of all time. I felt confident that this would help re-instill some of my passion for teaching and give me ideas to use class novels next year instead of the scripted curriculum (if I can convince my principal). So, here I am, reading the top 25 children's American classics of all time and blogging about it to re-inspire all of you out there who would like to read with me. If you don't want to read all of them then just try one that sparks an interest. I think you will be surprised how much you like it. Here is the official list in the order I will be reading:
1. Charlotte's Web
2. Bridge to Terabithia
3. A Wrinkle in Time
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
5. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
7. The Giver
8. Because of Winn-Dixie
9. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
11. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
12. Junie B., First Grader (At Last!)
13. Where the Red Fern Grows
14. Tuck Everlasting
15. Harriet the Spy
16. Ramona Quimby, Age 8
17. Little House on the Prairie
18. From the Mixed up Files of Mrs.Basil E Frankweiler
19. Maniac Magee
20. The Secret Garden
21. Ruby Holler
22. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry!
23. Anne of Green Gables
24. Freak the Mighty
25. A Series of Unfortunate Events