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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

New teachers are adjusting to jobs

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Thresia Brinkley, a first-year teacher at the SCTC, works with Durell Brown during a business education class
(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Morehouse third grade teacher Beth Lambert is spending the week grading papers, compiling students' work and double-checking grades.

Like the 22 of her fellow first-year colleagues, Lambert is preparing for her very first parent-teacher conferences scheduled for Thursday and Friday in the Sikeston R-6 School District.

"My living room is covered -- on my coffee table, there are papers and tests every where. Sometimes I feel like I'm just getting caught up, and then there's more," Lambert said.

After a nine-year absence from teaching middle school students, Lisa Hill returned this year to the profession, but as teacher of mentally retarded students at Sikeston Senior High. She, too, admitted quite a bit of paper work is involved with teaching.

"The paperwork is a very different amount than I remember. Now, a lot of paperwork is required by the state. Every 'i' must be dotted right," Hill said.

For Hill, her biggest worry at the beginning of the school year was the fact that the highest grade she'd ever taught was eighth grade.

"I was a little concerned about teaching older students. High school teachers always say they could never teach kindergarten. I didn't know if I would I relate to them at an appropriate level. I didn't want to be too hard, but I didn't want to treat them like babies either," Hill said, adding that things have been great so far.

Although Thresia Brinkley wasn't new to the Sikeston Career and Technology Center -- she was a substitute teacher there last semester -- this year is her first as a full-time business education teacher.

"There are not a lot of surprises my first year because I worked here last semester as a substitute," Brinkley said. "But I have learned if they (students) don't want to get an A in typing, you can't force them."

The biggest challenge, Brinkley said, is keeping up with the paperwork and meetings. Working as adviser of the Keyboarding Club and assistant adviser of FBLA has been one of the most fun things Brinkley's done so far this year, she said.

Technology is playing a major role in the new teachers' first school year also. One source is Sikeston Information Systems, a program created so teachers can record all of their students' grades in the same computer system. It has definitely come in handy at report card time, Hill noted, reminding that when she first taught it all had to be done by hand -- and still is in some area schools.

"Teachers enter the grades into the computer and with one click, it puts all the grades right into the computer. We just check them and they're imported right to the office switches. One thing I've learned is nothing teachers do is by hand anymore," Hill said.

Both Hill and Brinkley will also experience parent-teacher conferences at the high school level this week, and both think the conferences will be successful.

"It's also a first for the other teachers (at the high school)," Hill said about the conferences. "The administrators wanted to bring conferences back into the high school this year to make sure we were getting some parent contact."

All teachers will be set up in the high school cafeteria and parents can come in, pick up their child's grade report from their homeroom teacher and walk around and talk to any of the teachers they want, Hill explained.

Throughout the first couple months -- whether they had questions over the upcoming conferences or a daily task -- the new teachers admitted they haven't been shy about seeking advice from their assigned mentors.

"I visit her daily," Brinkley said. "I go to her whenever I have questions, particularly before meetings and ask her things like 'What do we do at certain meetings?' or 'What are the school's procedures for something?' I also ask what the acronyms stand for because there are so many."

Lambert said she uses her mentor all of the time. They have a break together and Lambert said she utilizes the time to ask about the basics.

"To be honest, it's really blown my expectations completely," Lambert said about her first couple months as a teacher. "I enjoy what I'm doing, and that's what helps -- doing something I enjoy."

This is the second article of a series on the experiences of new teachers in the Sikeston R-6 School District.