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New Carminati Elementary Teacher Shares Thoughts on First Year of Teaching

Post Date:12/05/2019 2:36 PM

Amanda Ashley class group photo“Even though she is a first year teacher, she has the wisdom of many experienced teachers I know. She knew what her purpose was the minute she walked onto our school campus.”

These are just some of the words that come to mind when Carminati Elementary Principal Wendy Reeck thinks of Fourth-Grade Teacher Amanda Ashley, a new teacher at Carminati this year. 

In her first year of teaching, Ashley has already created a supportive, positive, and safe classroom environment filled with opportunities for her students to grow in unique ways. Her initiative to start community partnerships has proven her ability to take charge and go above and beyond for her students. We interviewed Ashley recently to learn more about what lessons she has learned in her first year of teaching, and some exciting developments that she is working on for her class. 

    1. How has your first year teaching at Carminati gone so far?

      My first year teaching at Carminati has been better than I ever imagined it would be. I have an amazing group of kids and I feel constant support and kindness from all of the staff at Carminati. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that creating and maintaining a supportive, positive, and safe classroom environment is absolutely essential in order for effective teaching and learning to take place.

      I believe that one of my biggest successes this year has been with classroom management. Classroom management was something I knew was essential in order to create an effective learning environment, so I took a lot of time in the first two weeks of school to establish and reinforce the expectations, routines, and procedures in my classroom and it really paid off. 

    2.  When and where did you graduate from college? Why did you choose Tempe Elementary to continue your teaching career?

      In the fall of 2015 I left my hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin and attended Arizona State University. I graduated in the spring of 2019. I chose to begin my teaching career in the Tempe Elementary school district because of my internship and student teaching experiences in the district. I had such positive experiences in the district and started to form relationships with teachers, principals, and other staff members; I knew it was a district where I would be happy and successful. 

    3.  What main goals do you hope to accomplish with your class this year?

      One of the goals I had was to get my students involved in giving back to the community somehow. We are currently working on a project with an animal shelter. My students are creating portraits of dogs in the shelter that will be hung on their kennels and then given to the new owner of the dog once it’s adopted in order to promote and encourage adoption. 

      Another goal I hope to accomplish is to create a love for learning in each and every one of my students. I believe that if a child feels confident in themselves as a learner, they are bound to be successful. I try to instill this mentality in my students by helping them see that making mistakes or getting an incorrect answer can be seen as a positive thing because it means you're learning and if you put in the effort, you will eventually be successful. We often use the term "good job, nice try" in my classroom which we adopted from our Playworks program here at Carminati. 

    4. Have you received any positive support from your principal, Carminati colleagues, or staff members from Instructional Excellence (IE) this year? If so, how have your experiences with support been?

      I have received an abundant amount of support from my principal, colleagues, and staff members from IE. Our Principal, Wendy Reeck, has helped guide and assist me by providing me with advice and helpful resources, always reminding me to take care of myself, and providing me with feedback to help reinforce and/or improve my teaching. All of my colleagues have been extremely supportive. They make sure to ask me how I'm doing, they offer me advice and support, and they tell me I'm doing a great job even on the days when I feel like I'm not.

      My colleague, Fourth-Grade Teacher Carmen Unidano, has provided me with a tremendous amount of guidance and support. From the moment I started at Carminati, she has constantly provided me with helpful resources, advice, and is always willing to answer the many questions I have. My first year wouldn't be going as well as it is without her. Another colleague that has offered me endless support is Resource Teacher Jan Olis. Jan has provided me with books, alternative seating options, support in my classroom, and differentiation ideas for my students. She goes above and beyond to help support me as a first year teacher.

    5. As of now, do you hope to continue next year at Carminati Elementary?

      I hope to continue my teaching career at Carminati next year. I love the community here at Carminati, including students, parents, and staff. It's such a welcoming, friendly school that I'm very proud to be apart of. 

Thank you, Amanda, for choosing Tempe Elementary School District to launch your teaching career! We appreciate your commitment and how much you care about our students.

Are you a first year teacher? Please reach out to us at to share your thoughts on your first year of teaching!

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