Jitters. Butterflies. Nerves.

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By Melissa Miller, Ed.D., M.Ed.

Staying up late to organize binders, notebooks, and supplies – check. Reading and re-reading my students’ names to try to pronounce correctly and memorize – check. Nerves before my first lecture “in front” of the class – check. Feeling prepared to teach my first online class – ask me next week!

Having taught in the elementary and secondary classroom, I thought my days of “First Day of School Nerves” we well behind me! Nerves were only for first-year teachers and maybe a teacher who changes a grade level or school and has a new environment. How did I get here?

I landed my dream job of teaching online part-time. This is what I had worked so hard for – years in the classroom and going back to school for my Ed.D. While I was extremely excited, the nerves surprised me! I was prepared, I had the academic and professional experience, and I had experience as a student in an online classroom. So why was I so nervous?

Maybe I was nervous because I badly wanted to do a good job? I had been out of the workforce for a year on maternity leave, and I was feeling slightly “rusty.” Would I be able to keep up and still be a relevant, engaging, and fun teacher?

Maybe I was nervous because I was not sure how much time was going to be required in order for me to do a good job? I had a general idea of how much time the job was going to involve, but this was one of many unknowns that I faced.

Maybe I was nervous because I was not sure how the virtual, online classroom was going to impact how I delivered instruction and related to my students? I had the training, the technology skills, and the pedagogical skills, of course, but I was unsure about the reality of really teaching and educating online.

The night of my first class, I gave myself a pep talk that was not unlike the talk I had when I was a first year teacher in the brick-and-mortar classroom! I focused on how I was prepared and to remind myself that my experience and knowledge led me to this point. I focused on how I wanted to share my experiences and knowledge with adult learners, and this helped ease my nerves.

After my first class, I was on such a natural high, I couldn’t get to sleep! I was so excited! It felt so good to be “back in the classroom” with motivated, eager learners who wanted to hear what I had to say. I had so much fun! They were interested, engaged, and inviting. I could not have asked for a better experience! When I went back and listed to my lecture (a practice I recommend for all new teachers when possible), I can sense my nerves, but I don’t think the students noticed it!

Well, at least they were polite enough not to say anything…

About the New Adjunct: Dr. Melissa Miller completed her Ed.D. with an emphasis in Teacher Leadership from Walden University. She holds a M.Ed. from Mary Washington University and a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Virginia Tech. Dr. Miller’s professional and research interests include adult and online learning, professional development, and literacy. Presently, Dr. Miller works as an adjunct instructor and an evaluator, while also enjoying her role as a wife and mother.

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