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Making My First Year Teaching a Year to Remember

24 January 2024

By Ms. Roseanna Jurasas, Second-Grade Teacher at Goudy Technology Academy

Ms. Jurasas

This year, I’m teaching an English class after school for first- and second-grade students. It’s always held after school on Wednesdays and Thursdays. When the students I teach in this class see me around the school, they always ask me if there is English class that day. Even if it’s Monday. 

Building these strong relationships after school has been a highlight of my first year of teaching. And, being a second-grade teacher, I love being able to work with first-grade students who may be in my class next year. 

Growing up, I didn’t know that I wanted to pursue teaching, but I knew that I wanted to work with kids. One summer, I worked at a special education summer school, where some of my students were bilingual or Spanish-speaking. That was my first time seeing that you can incorporate language, Spanish specifically, into teaching. 

That sent me on the path toward becoming a teacher who can incorporate students’ native languages into the classroom. 

When I’m teaching, I feel like it is where I should be. I bring relatability into the classroom. When my students talk about TikToks they’ve seen, I often know what they’re talking about. And I never treat my students like they’re babies. Instead, I create a learning environment where we’re all on equal footing and everyone is learning together. 

My first year of teaching has been a roller coaster in some ways. Throughout the year, I’ve welcomed newcomer students into my classroom. I started the year with 17 students, and that total has been as high as 28. These students have been through a lot to be in my classroom, and they show up every day with smiles on their faces. Sometimes, they even ask me for homework. 

I believe it is a tremendous responsibility to make sure these students feel welcome and supported in my classroom. When our class holds morning meetings, I give them an opportunity to introduce themselves, share where they are from, and talk about what they think about Chicago so far. I also connect them with my bilingual students who are strong in both English and Spanish to support them academically. 

This unpredictability has been challenging as a first-year teacher, but I am lucky to have fantastic colleagues. They would probably describe my teaching style as energetic and engaging. I try to think about what I enjoyed when I was a student to keep my lessons exciting and never boring. 

My colleagues are a great resource because I can tell that they want to be at Goudy. Many of them are veteran educators. They share positivity and a desire to work together to make Goudy a better place for everyone. 

For the rest of the school year, I will be working hard to develop new and creative ways to make sure that all of my students are working together, whether they only speak English or are bilingual. This will help them see that Goudy is a place for them regardless of their background. 

That sense of belonging in second grade can have a big impact on their future. It will show them that their community is here to support them and that they are capable of accomplishing anything. 

My students come into my classroom smiling and bring positive energy every morning. I am committed to matching that energy. I want them to keep making people smile and to keep working hard. They should know that the love and energy they put out into the world is what they are going to receive back.

There are essentially a countless number of places where I could have spent my first year teaching. I feel very lucky to be at Goudy, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. 

Not only is Ms. Jurasas a fantastic addition to CPS as a first-year teacher, but she is also a native of the Chicagoland area. Her educational background is in bilingual, bicultural education and Spanish. 

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