A Day in the Life of a First-Year Teacher

Sunday, August 2, 2015

From middle school teacher to high school teacher

Blog readers, 

I was pleasantly surprised today when I logged on to this blog for the first time since LAST SEPTEMBER and noticed that I am still getting blog views from across the U.S. and even Russia, China, and Canada.

Here is your long-awaited update! 

As of June 2015, I have successfully finished my fourth year of teaching at the same middle school in the South Bronx that I started at back in 2011. I had four amazing years at my school. This past year, my Integrated Algebra (Common Core Algebra I) students achieved the highest pass rate in my school's history for 8th grade students on the Regents exam. Despite the new Common Core standards and tests, I had the least amount of failing grades in my 8th grade math course (and the most A's -- 40% of my students averaged an A for the year!). 

Unfortunately, in March, my principal, Ms. Lopez, informed the school community that she accepted a position as principal of a school in Westchester County, the suburbs to the north of The Bronx/NYC. Ms. Lopez has been instrumental to my success as a teacher over these past four years. She was the woman that hired me when I was 21 years old and fresh out of New York University. During these past four years, Ms. Lopez has provided me unwavering support and guidance as I navigated classroom management, curriculum, test prep, assessment, re-teaching, and the application of all of the education and developmental psychology theories that I studied at NYU. Ms. Lopez helped me gain admission to Columbia, my dream school since I was 12, for my master's degree. Finally, Ms. Lopez recognized my achievements from very early on and always focused on my strengths and providing constructive feedback on my evaluations. At the end of the 2013-2014 school year, I was selected for the new Lead Teacher position offered by the NYCDOE. In this capacity, over the course of this past school year, two of my teaching periods were spent mentoring the other teachers in my department, managing student data, conducting monthly department meetings, and coordinating best teaching practices. Being selected for the position at 25 has been a great honor and I am elated to say that despite some flaws early on, I thrived in my new role! 

With the departure of Ms. Lopez, I have made the tough decision of leaving the school that I have taught at for the past four years. Over the course of these four years, I have touched the lives of countless students and inspired them to believe in themselves and set high expectations for their future. Many of my former students have followed me on social media and continue to seek my counsel by e-mail and in person. My students from my first year of teaching will be entering their SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL this upcoming school year!! (Scary thought, I know. When did I get so old?) I have found such great joy in instructing my students, passing on my passion for mathematics and education, and getting to know many of them on a personal level. Leaving the school was an extremely difficult and personal decision. 

In May of 2015, I was hired to teach 2 sections of Algebra II/Trigonometry and 2 sections of Pre-Calculus at a high school in the South Bronx! I will be in a similar area of NYC and, as a consolation, some of my students have gone on to the high school where I will be starting this year. With the help of Ms. Lopez and my track record over the past four years, I was offered a Model Teacher role and stipend at the onset of my new offer with the high school. In this capacity, I will receive a $7,500 bonus on top of a $5,000 hard-to-staff differential and a $58,903 base salary. As a Model Teacher, I will be "[using my] classroom to serve as a laboratory and resource to support the professional growth of colleagues." Exciting, no??? ;) 

It's August - which means one more month of summer and lots of prep work for the next school year!!! (I just got back from a week-long trip to South Africa with my former roommates and some friends from NYU.) I already have the first week of lesson plans done for both of my classes :) 

I hope to update y'all soon. 

-Mr. Yang