Sara Starts Over

Here’s a first year teacher story and comic about how it’s never too late to start things over with your class. Submit your story and get a free 180Dayz calendar. Check here for details as to what I’m looking for:


My first year I was hired to teach 6th grade at a charter school in Boston. I was a twenty something year old from Southern California, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to teach! I spent weeks before school planning how to set up the desks, decorate the walls, and organize the classroom. On the first day when the kids walked in I thought I was totally prepared, but they ate me alive! I struggled through the day, rushing my lessons because the kids would call out and were being rude and disrespectful at every turn. I even had a few students that would lie on the floor and sit under their desks. They would tell me how proud they were that they caused a teacher to have a nervous breakdown in the stairwell the year before. It was a mess…

(Luckily, at my school, I had two incredible people to turn to. I watched Dany Edwards, the student support teacher, foster relationships with the students that were built with respect and love. I noticed how the kids needed a balanced approach to their instruction: humor and structure, love and high expectations. They wanted to feel safe and believe that I cared about them. There also was a teacher coach, Brad Hendrixson, who showed me how to teach with energy and enthusiasm that would make even the most disenfranchised student care about how to add decimals.)

After 3 months of hell, to put it mildly, I went on Christmas break and took a moment to reflect. I loved teaching and I knew the kids had the potential to be awesome, but I had to figure out how to win them over and get them to believe that I was there for them! I decided to start the year over. On the day back from Christmas vacation I literally started the year over, as if it was the first day of school once again. We focused on community building activities, the setting of expectations, the earning of trust and respect, the learning how to speak to each other and even how to walk in the classroom. It was the best decision I have ever made. The class flourished! The kids felt safe in the structure and I discovered how much I loved working with the spunk and attitude that the kids walked in with, once I had learned how to harness it for good! The takeaway: It’s never too late to start the year over with your students.

-Sara McNulty

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s