Hello Soon-To-Be First Year Teacher

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hello Soon-To-Be First Year Teacher,
    I have two months to go until I can say that I have completed [survived] my first year of teaching. As I reflect on the past few months, I am flooded with a mix of emotions and a hundred crazy stories. I have learned SO much this year about teaching, about children, about working with others, and about myself. I'm so excited for YOU as you begin this journey. I hope that this can be some sort of encouragement to you, Soon-To-Be First Year Teacher, throughout this upcoming year.

1. It's impossible to know all the answers and that's okay. 

As a teacher, you have to make hundreds of small decisions throughout the day. I had no idea how many decisions I would have to make and how many I would be completely clueless about! Students ask you questions, co-workers ask you questions, and parents ask you questions. In all reality, there is no way you are going to know the answer to them all, but sometimes you just have to make a decision and go with it (at least for the "small" ones) or simply, admit you do not know the answer, but you will look into it (for the "big" ones). If you are wrong, you can humbly admit you are wrong and learn from your mistake. If you are right, then go with it and celebrate the fact that you learned something. Either way, make sure that take the time to find the right answer from those that are more experienced than you and learn from your uncertainty.

2. Pace yourself. 

The beginning of the year is crazy. You have to decorate bulletin boards, arrange furniture, collaborate with professionals and service providers (I'm a special education teacher so I have to make sure all of my kiddos are getting their service hours in), figure out a daily schedule (and staff schedules and bathroom schedule) that works for your class and their needs, train your staff of paraprofessionals (if you have them), meet parents and students, and attend several training sessions for your staff and new curriculum. Oh yeah...and you have to plan and TEACH! Like I said, IT'S CRAZY and it's so easy to become consumed by all that you need to do and get done, but I have learned that there will always be work that needs to be [can be] done. Do not work so hard at the beginning of the year that you burn yourself out. Set a reasonable time that you will leave each day. Set aside one day that you will stay late at work to plan and prep. What you don't get done one week, you can work on the next. Don't go into work every weekend or feel like you are a bad teacher if you don't. You will be so glad that you paced yourself and set boundaries at the beginning of the year when it comes to February and March (I am learning this lesson the hard way).

3. Passion can go a long way. 

Take the time to write out why you want to be a teacher. Before you start teaching, before you start your career, write down all the reasons why you are going into this field. Type them up, make them cute, and place them somewhere in your classroom that you can visibly see it day to day. This will be a good reminder throughout the upcoming year. You chose this field for a reason. You are passionate about kids and learning and about developing future generations. All the confusion you may feel throughout the year, all the tiredness you experience, all the tears that you shed are all worth it. It will get better (I still tell myself that and others still tell me that). Make sure to remind yourself (and put others in your life that will remind you) why you are passionate about teaching.

GOOD LUCK! You can do it!

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