Monday, December 21, 2015

New Teacher Blues Revisited

My room the day before I started teaching.
Really bare. And below, my room today.

by Hilde Garcia

Three years ago, I became a full time teacher and I wrote this post. What's amazing is that three years later, it still applies.

Now, this amazing room, pictured here will be reinvented in a new building this January.  And I will come up with new class procedures I am sure because it is a new space.  Things are bound to be different.
And here? My new sunny room, done quite done yet, but on its way!
What will it look like?

But I will still decorate it the way I want. I will still read aloud to my students and I will still wonder why the education budget in our country is always the first thing that is cut.

During this holiday season, think of one way you can support your local school, your neighborhood teacher, the kid next door.  You don't have to have a kid in school to make a difference. You can volunteer at a school, vote to help legislation, donate supplies or funds, or simply believe in your local school.

Some samples of stained glass art my
students did for this holiday art this year.

From all of us here at Pen and Ink, we wish you the merriest of holiday seasons and a safe and happy new year. We writers are a special group. We have so much power and can change the world one story at a time.

Thank you for your contributions to children's literature.

Reposted from 2012.

Five Best Things about Teaching
by Hilde Garcia

5I have my own classroom. 
I was able to decorate it the way I envisioned amazing learning should look like. I love walking into it and smelling the wood floors, seeing the sunlight filter in through the 1920’s gigantic glass windows. I love the room best when it’s quiet, before my students arrive, and the lights are off. It reminds me of school days long ago.

4Reading aloud to my students.
My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Sybil Dobbs, would keep the lights off after lunch, have us sit and rest our heads, and then read to us. That was the year I went down the river with Tom and Huck, found a garden with Mary, and got into trouble as red heads often do, especially when they are orphans. Those timeless classics, Tom Sawyer, The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables have stayed with me throughout the years. So I too, now, turn off the lights and read a loud to my children. Old classics and new ones as well.

I love planning my lessons in my old fashioned planner. I love making up cool projects and assignments to inspire the kids. I love when I get notes from them on how much they love my class and how much we laugh. They think what I do is fun and they love learning. What could be better praise?

2My colleagues.
They are truly amazing, each and every one. I am very fortunate to teach in a dual immersion language program and we have five languages at one school site- English, Spanish, French, German and Italian. On any given day, you can begin a conversation in one language and end in another. Our school-wide festivals are unique, bringing in every type of culture you can imagine. The warmth that permeates the hallway makes it a place I would go to even if I wasn’t on staff.

1Knowing that I will make a mark on another human on the planet.
That has to be the best thing about teaching. It’s why I love to write, because I can touch someone like so many have touched me. My Kindergarten teacher left a indelible mark on me when she held up the color red and said the word red and the told me to color the apple red. I didn’t know English. I was scared. She was caring. The sunlight filtered into the room, through the big old-fashioned windows, and enveloped the room with a glow that made reading something special. She transformed my world and I have taken her gift with me. Now it’s my turn.

Five Worse Things about Teaching

Having a shortened school day and school year, but being expected to teach twice the amount of material in that time.

It’s lacking in some communities for education. It used to be that school was what you did as a child. Now, there are more options and it feels at times like teachers are fighting a losing battle against video games, television, marketing schemes, and parents who feel vacation has to happen during the school day. (I knew a parent that actually took the kids to Disneyland during the week because she felt like it- never mind that it was the week of our state testing.)

3The technology gap.
It’s sad. Some schools have access to it and some don’t. Economics are not equal when it comes to schools, yet our government boasts that we give every child the opportunity for an education. But what type? If we want all our nation’s children to thrive and be ready for a 21st century world, then we have to educate them with 21st Century technology. A chalk and chalkboard will not do.

2The lack of thematic integration.
We want the kids to connect with the world and work cooperatively with their peers, but we tell them to sit down, be quiet, look at page 50 and copy the questions. We are rigid with our curriculum, following one book, one style. With so many children and so many learning styles, we have to embrace more diversity in our teaching. Many schools are doing this now and it give s me hope that we will begin to see teaching that reflects the global interactions of our planet.

And the number one worse thing about being a teacher?

1The budget.
Please stop cutting it. You can’t teach 40 kids in a class and expect that everyone is going to get one on one time. You can’t use most of your salary to buy supplies for your students, but we do. There are so many parents in public schools these days that donate constantly to their child’s class, establish booster clubs and foundations in order to raise money to provide art, music, and even paper. We have to find a way to cure the budget blues as a nation because our kids are worth it. They are us a few years ago. And there is no excuse for not having the money. We have to think creatively, like we are asking our kids to do. We should involve business, communities, volunteers. It does take a village. But it’s so well worth it. How do you stop unemployment? Begin educating students for the changes in the world so they can adapt and be employable in the future.


  1. What's with all the strings? Are you teaching String Theory as the basis for understanding the universe. Shucks, I'm just getting the hang of Chaos Theory.
    Lucky Charm

  2. Hilde, you rock! I wish you'd been my teacher!

  3. Hilde, you rock! I wish you'd been my teacher!


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