A first-year teacher's perspective

A first-year teacher's perspective
Posted on 09/27/2016
Hailey Furrer was a nervous wreck the day before school as parents and students were streaming into her third grade class at Fisher Elementary to meet her. “I was having a nervous breakdown on why did they hire me,” the first-year teacher says.

But then came the best moment of her young teaching career: the actual first day of school. “Having everything fall into place the way it was supposed to was really nice,” she says. “The students were responding to everything I had learned in a great way.”

Despite a stressful day before school, Furrer has loved her move into Lynden. Originally from Mukilteo, Furrer chose Western Washington University to put a little distance between herself and the place she called home. But not too much distance. After a student-teaching stint in the Bellingham School District she did fill in about half of last year at Bellingham’s Cordata Elementary in a leave replacement role for a first grade class.

“Honestly, I was hoping for a first grade class,” she says about landing her first classroom, “since that is what I was used to for student teaching and leave replacement. But I’m glad I did third grade. It is amazing so far. Now third is my preferred grade.”

It sure hasn’t take long for Furrer to fall in love with third graders. Not only does she deal with less tattling, she joked, but the students have more independence and she has an opportunity to work one-on-one with them more than in the younger grades.

Furrer all along wanted to stay near Whatcom County, having embraced the atmosphere of the county and the accessibility to the outdoors, especially with her enjoyment of hiking and kayaking. The Fisher opening was the first teaching position she had an interview for. “Once I got an interview there everyone was saying that if you get a job, you need to take it,” she says. “The teachers are so nice and friendly and the parents are so involved. I loved the Bellingham School District, but here I feel like everyone comes to school happy and everybody wants to be here.”

While saying she thought some of the parents were nervous about having a first-year teacher leading their student’s class, she’s been encouraged by the parent responses less than a month into the school year.

“They have been emailing and saying the kids have been having fun,” she says. “I want the kids to know I’m still learning things while they are learning things and not everyone is perfect. I think that has helped some of the students relax a little bit more and let them know we are on the same page. It is helping some of my shy students.”

As everyone continues to grow in the newness of it all—Furrer says the biggest challenge has been handling early-year assessments of students, something she had help with when she student taught—the new Fisher teacher remains excited for continuing to get into the school year. “I’m still getting used to curriculum and how things are being run,” she says. “After a few weeks I will understand how lesson plans are laid out. Right now there are a lot of late nights.”

But even with the late nights, there haven’t been any worried thoughts like the day before school. Furrer knows she belongs and the Lynden students and parents have hammered that point home.