Looking back on my first year

Deciding on Mexico
June 20, 2019
A Seat at the Table
July 15, 2019

Looking back on my first year

Two weeks ago, we celebrated the end of the 2019 school year. I hugged, kissed and said farewell to my precious little third graders. I can hardly believe that I finished my first year of teaching. As I reflect on this year, I think about several things I was unprepared for and had the opportunity to learn from:

  1. The many hats of a teacher:

I knew that a teacher is never truly just a teacher because of all the many roles they play based on their students’ needs. I had no idea what all that entailed. For instance, sometimes I was a nurse, a mom, a teacher, a comedian and a good listener all in one day. I learned that my students spend most of their time in a day at school… with me. Therefore, a teacher has the ability to make one of the biggest impacts on a students life. Thus, it is vital that I wear as many hats as necessary to meet the needs of my students. 

  1. Time:

Time; something there never seems to be enough of, especially as a teacher. There is always something to do, something to grade or something to plan. I learned that as an educator, you’ll always be about 6 hours behind on all the things you have to do but it’s all about management and your focus. If my focus is first on Jesus, the rest will naturally fall into place. 

  1. All the love:

I did not know that it was possible to feel this much love for my students. It is a kind of love that I believe is similar to a parents love. I have learned and understood more about God the Father’s love than ever before. Not only was I shocked by the deep care I have for my students but I was blown away by the constant love they displayed to me. My students taught me what it meant to love with “ keeping no record of wrong”. We learned from each other and grew together. Through every hill and valley, they loved with open arms.

  1. Laughter:

I learned that laughter is one of the most important things to implement in my classroom. I made many mistakes. My brain was also always on the go and thinking of what I needed to do next. Thus, teaching was never perfect but the best medicine was to laugh. To laugh at my mistakes and allow my students to even laugh with me as then moved forward and grew from it was the best thing to do on those days when everything seems to go wrong. 

  1. Depth:

The depth or impact of a teacher goes way beyond the classroom. In the same way, the influence of a student to a teacher goes beyond the classroom. I had no idea how much my students would shape, change and mold me into the person I am today. I would say that depth is one of the most important things that can take place in the classroom and have some of the greatest effects beyond the classroom for generations to come. 

Looking back, these are the biggest things that stuck out to me as a first-year teacher. Things that I had no idea I’d learn or even attain. And to think, this was only my first year! I am greatly anticipating all the opportunities to learn and grow in the years to come as I continue teaching. This is just the beginning!


– Philem Andress, GEM Missionary

If you’d like to support Philem as she serves with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact her directly to talk further about what it means to be on her support team and find out how you can be praying for her!