Dear New Teacher...
Dear new teacher,
This is what I know about you: you are over-the-moon right now. You are swimming in a sea of curriculum that is new and exciting to you. The Dollar Spot and Dollar Tree are your most-frequented hang outs, and you have visions of all of the cute things you will have in your room. You are pretty sure that the cute things will make your classroom a happy, safe place for your students, and learning will be fun for everyone in your classroom.
People know you're a new teacher when they see you: you have a sparkle in your eye that they recognize, but they may have lost a while ago.
This is also what I know about you: you are nervous. You don't know exactly what to expect from these kids, or parents, or teammates, or this principal, or these standards. When everything is new, it's a little unsettling. Your team wants to get together to plan, and you feel like you either need to pretend that you already know what to do, or make sure you say at least fifty times that you have no idea what you're doing. It's hard to know when to fake your confidence or hide behind your anxiety.
People know you're a new teacher when they see you: you look like a deer in the headlights when they start rattling off school procedures you need to know by the first day.
I also know this about you: you know some things. That's how you got this job; don't play the new teacher card so often that your team wonders what you bring to the table. You learned some great things in college, and you know the most current research on all of the things. Some of your teammates are only relying on what's comfortable for them...maybe not what's best for their students. Don't be afraid to voice your opinion when you have one.
But you don't know everything. You will need to find a mentor, join some Facebook groups, read some articles, borrow some books, observe some teachers, do what it takes to learn when you don't know. Don't let yourself drown when literally everyone around you would toss you the life preserver if you held out your hands for help. If you don't have a mentor in your building, there is no shortage of virtual mentors you can find through social media. Teachers are coming together online every day to share what they know.
This is what you need to know: the enthusiasm you're feeling right now is great; it's going to keep you going when things get tough. The nerves you're having are normal; they will keep you grounded as you navigate your first parent night, conferences, meet the teacher event, team planning, staff meeting, etc. etc. etc.
You will get very, very tired. And this is going to happen so much sooner than you think it should. Your first full week will pretty much make you feel like you've been run over by a truck. It's because your first year is a race to catch up. The expectations are high for all teachers. The finish line of where we need to get our students by the end of the year is the same for everyone. But the teachers are not all coming in with the same experiences. So, you will work a little harder at the beginning to learn the curriculum, master classroom management, get into a rhythm with planning, and just work to catch up to your peers. This is exhausting, but it's not forever. You actually do catch up. A second year teacher and a veteran going into year ten pretty much feel the same level of stress at the same points in the year. Things are harder for a first year teacher because they're new. But it won't be new next year: don't forget that.
You also need to know this: you were called to this profession. Your students need you. You are on this path because you care, and public education certainly needs to be filled to the brim with people who care. You will have some hard moments with your students, but you will also be moved by some wonderful moments. You will be shocked at how sad you are on your last day of your first year. The kids will misbehave, frustrate you, struggle to grasp concepts, and so much more, but they will always be your first class.
Finally, you need to know this: this year is going to be harder than you can anticipate, but it will also be better than you're hoping for. Teaching is extremely important work, and nothing important can be too easy.
You've got this, new teacher.
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