First Year Teacher Advice: "Dear First Year Teacher Me"

10 November 2016 / Leave a Comment

Every teacher remembers there first year of teaching like it was yesterday.  It's a time of excitement, terror, questioning, anticipation, and reflection.  But what would you say to yourself if you could go back in time?  I decided to write a letter to younger self and boy did I have a lot to say.

Dear First Year Teacher Me,

Wow.  You made it to your very own classroom, in your first real teaching job.  Congratulations!  Celebrate this moment.  You've worked so hard to get here... but there's much coming your way. Here's a bit of advice from your older self.   Buckle up and get ready for the ride of your life.

You. Can.  Do.  This.

First of all, lift that chin up!  You are doing it!  You are changing the world one mind at a time.  Yes, the work is harder than you ever imagined.  But despite what you might think you aren't drowning.  You are surviving... and that's ok.  You. Can. Do. This! Shake off the insecurities and knock that lesson out of the park.  If I doesn't work, tweak it or trash it.  Move on to the next best thing.  

Listen to your resources... not just the bosses.

Of course you should do what your principal is asking of you and heed the mentor teacher's suggestions...but your school is brimming with resources.  Ask your librarian for read alouds that would match with your lesson.  Ask your instructional aides, Title 1 teachers, and special ed teachers for academic and behavior strategies.  Check out that teacher down the hallway who always has the best workbooks... she may have more than just something quick for you to copy.  You may end up with a life long friend to celebrate, cry, and laugh the school year away with.

Don't worry about what everyone else is doing.

Teachers with more experience are wonderful to work with, but can sometimes be downright unnerving.  It's easy to let these thoughts sneak into your head.
"Wow.  Her students are always quiet in the hallways and mine are always making a ruckus."
"Ugh, Mr.______ always has the best math lessons.  My kids are so  bored with mine."
Stop comparing yourself to more senior teachers.  Don't beat yourself because your lesson doesn't have bells and whistles.  It's taken those men and women years to perfect those extras.  Right now focus on what YOU are doing in YOUR classroom.  Make your own memories and try out new things. Have a crazy idea for a lesson?  Go for it!  That's the beauty of your first year.  You have all the passion and excitement to make for some killer lessons your kids will never forget.

Leave your baggage at the door. 

This is the hardest one for first and older teachers alike.  You have to remember to leave your personal baggage at the door in the morning.  Yes you might have woken up late this morning, spilled coffee on your white shirt, and forgot to make a copy of this worksheet.  But don't take that out on your class.  Ask yourself at the end of the day?  "Did I have a bad day?  Or did I just milk a bad 10 mins for 8 hours?"
This also counts for not taking everything that happened at school back home with you.  You partner has no idea what you've gone through.  They will support your through good and bad, but remember they are a sponge and they soak up everything you say.  Eventually they will burst and it won't be pretty. They also only see your school from the reflection you bring home.  Impose the 10 minute rule.  Get all the teacher talk out and after those 10 mins are up you can't bring school up for the night.  
This includes that school baggage you cart around with you everywhere.  Netflix and snuggle is sacred.  Your partner, dog, and family don't want to share you with that monster of a grading pile.  Set a side time and space to do grading at home if you must, but make your home life sacred and separate from school.

Even on your worst days you are still making a difference.

We all have those days where you think, "I am literally the worst teacher ever."  Don't say that about yourself.  So what if your kids didn't understand the grammar lesson about nouns today.  Your students did however see what persistency looks like when you told them you'd be learning more about it tomorrow.  So what if you made a mistake when you solving that math problem in front of them?  You taught them humans make mistakes and how to think critically.  So what if you've had a particularly challenging student that pushed your buttons all day?  You showed them love even when they were acting in an unloving way.  I promise you... they will never forget you as their teacher.

Enjoy the little moments with little people.

You literally have the best job in the world.  You get to see the world though a child's eyes EVERY week day!  You get to celebrate holidays with the same magic you yourself once had.  You get to play games and watch movies from your childhood.  You get to share wonderful and life changing stories and experiences with the next generation.  Cherish these.  It's what makes the rough days a little bit better.


Older Teacher Me


Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top