Dear new teacher,
This year, I am starting my ninth year of teaching, so can I give you some advice? There are often so many voices shouting at teachers, and I want to both encourage you and be honest with you. My best word of wisdom for new teachers is to remember that there will be so many different kinds of days at school. Kids are growing every minute, which means not one of your days at work will be the same as the last. Teaching is exciting on the good days and exhausting on the hard days. And there are so many other types of days in between.
As the school year begins, there will be days you are both nervous and excited for the first weeks of school. Your heart and your Amazon cart might fill up quickly when you meet those sweet kids.
No matter what month it is, there will be days you’ll feel overwhelmed. Sometimes the schedule is a mess. Sometimes it feels like you are the only one who cares about what’s going on inside your classroom. Some days it will feel like no one heard a single word you said, but you will say it anyway. Even on those days, I promise your work matters.
There will be days to celebrate. Sometimes you will check off everything on your list. Sometimes little hugs and hilarious kids will fuel your smile for weeks. Hopefully, on a lot of days, everyone will actually learn what you are trying to teach them. Make sure to celebrate even the smallest improvements because they all add up to a bigger goal.
Then there will be days you will literally do everything for everyone all at once. You will crawl into bed exhausted, but it will all get done. On those days it is okay to ask for help. And I hope you realize every ounce of your effort makes a difference for your students.
I promise there will be days your students teach you more than you teach them. You will grow and change together as a class. You will learn more from just being with your students than any professional development you could ever attend in your career.
I need you to know that there might be days when all you can do is cry for your students. And then pray for them. The world can be an ugly place sometimes, even for the sweetest kids. Remember that those days might stand out, but not all days will be that way. Talking to another teacher will help.
Speaking of other teachers, there will be so many times when you need the other teachers on your team, in your building, and in your community. No one understands the demands and triumphs of teaching like other teachers do. Those will be the days when coworkers become lifelong friends.
To be perfectly honest, there might be entire weeks that you want to leave school in the middle of the day and not come back. You will come back anyway and things will get better. Then there might be afternoons you have to force yourself to put your work down and leave school to get home.
You will not feel your best every day. On those days, your own world will matter more than what’s going on at school. Hear me when I tell you that your own health and your own family matter most every single day. Some days teaching will be just a job and some days it will be a passion. It comes in waves, and both are okay.
There will be quite a few days when people who have never worked in a classroom will give you advice. Feel free to smile and nod and keep doing your best teaching. You will know how your students learn best because you will spend time building a relationship with them. Some days teachers will be celebrated by the world and other days teachers will be disrespected. Neither of those kinds of days actually defines you personally, but sometimes it might feel like it.
Some days everything will run thin. The budget, your patience, and resources might not reach far enough. You will want so much more for the kids in your room. Yet, you will keep doing your very best with what you have. Those days will be hard, but you will make it. On these kinds of days, remind yourself that your students are blessed to have you advocate for them.
Teaching is definitely an adventure. The longer you teach, the more you realize there are so many kinds of days and none of them will last the entire year. Whether the school year is flying by or you are crawling to that dismissal bell, please remember that each day you show up for those kids makes an impact on their future. I hope you have plenty of days filled with learning, fun, and laughter. And I hope you always have the support you need to make it through the hard days.
You’ve got this,