It’s a year of firsts for Megan Miller.
The recent Iowa State University graduate began her teaching career this fall at Hanawalt Elementary in Des Moines, leading a group of 21 first-graders.
It’s been an adjustment, professionally and personally, says Miller. But there’s no other job she’d rather be doing.
“I just really enjoy what I do,” she says.
Miller graduated in May with a degree in early childhood education and endorsement in special education. When she first started college, she knew she wanted to work with children, but wasn’t sure in what capacity. Spending time in a classroom setting steered her to teaching.
“I loved the opportunity to get into the classroom and share that passion with the kids, and to ignite it as well,” she says.
Her degree allows her to teach children from birth to third grade, a developmental range she finds particularly interesting. She also just enjoys that age group.
“They still have that excitement of coming to school and learning new things,” says Miller.
One of the greatest challenges her first year has been finding balance. It’s been especially tough “finding a good place between being their (students’) friend and the person in charge in the classroom,” she says. Things have gotten easier as the kids have learned the routine and know what’s expected of them.
She’s also had to reconcile her “regular” personality, which likes structure, organization and schedules, with her “teacher” personality, which requires a more go-with-the-flow attitude.
What’s been most surprising so far, she says, is the amount of time outside of the school day that teaching requires. There have been days she’s arrived at work at 6:30 a.m. and left at 7 p.m. Miller says she’s slowly working on taking some personal time for herself.
So far, she’s enjoyed getting to know her students — their personalities, interests and quirks. Her goal this year is to help prepare each of them for what’s on the horizon.
“I want them to leave here ready for whatever that next step is for them,” she says, including feeling comfortable in the second grade. “I hope that they always have this passion for coming to school.”