Good morning, friends! It feels so good to wake up and get to the blog on my own time without having to rush out somewhere. Today we're doing a version of Sunday Letters: Dear First Year Teacher. But, as always, write whatever you want! Maybe you want to write Sunday Letter or something else. The choice is yours, writers!
Dear First Year Teacher,
I'm so excited to welcome you to the profession that I love so so much. It has led me to some of my best friends and happiest moments. I know you will find the same as you embark on this journey known as teaching.
Love teaching. First, know that there will be the loveliest days, the days where your kids are cute and they make you laugh and they all do almost everything you ask of them. They will ask you questions that will make you marvel at their curiosity, they will draw you pictures that show their love, and if they're in middle school, they will probably tell you to F off, but that's okay. Those middle school kids will come around on their own time, finding unique and creative ways to let you know they really appreciate all you do for them.
Prioritize. Your days are going to fly by. You'll get to work, and even if there is something in your personal life, something amazing or something awful, it will be as if didn't even happen, because you won't have a second to think about it. You might find yourself running around like a chicken with your head cut off just trying to get things done in time enough to make your day run smoothly. Instead of feeling out of control, make a running to-do list and prioritize it all. Know that you will never get that entire list done, so don't stay at work every night until 7:30 to finish it. Just get done what is most important and then go home and relax. Tell yourself: It's okay not to finish the list.
Seek collaboration for academics. I know you're thinking: I have so much to teach them and not even nearly enough time. Yes, welcome to teaching. Fortunately, you will have a wide Personal Learning Network (PLN) that is both in person with your colleagues and online via Social Media. Use your people. Go to your mentor. Go to your grade-level team. Ask for help. Believe me, we were all there and we love to share, so please, take us up on it!
Don't forget SEL. In addition to the academics, know that there's another whole side to school, one that I believe is even more important: teaching children to be healthy in their social and emotional worlds. Your kids are going to come to school and be all their own individual selves. Some will have sat down to a dinner and breakfast with their parents before they come back to school. Some children will have not have eaten since they left school yesterday. Some children will have read a book with a family member last night and some will have listened to arguing or even violence in their homes. We have no idea what's going on at home (although we learn to figure it out) but please, don't pass judgment. Help them while they are with you, love them and care for them, and teach them to be kind to everyone in their little classroom family. It's these skills of collaboration, empathy, and responsibility that we must instill in our kids to prepare them for this crazy world we live in!
Build healthy relationships. In addition to your interactions with your students, you will also be immersed in a world of colleagues. You will come to be friends with the other new teachers who start the same year as you. Become friends. Close friends. Share phone numbers and lean on one another, because trust me, you will need them. Find at least one friend who you can really trust so they're there to share in all your happy moments when you can sing your own praises and also when you need to close the door and cry or let off a string of explicit language, knowing your secrets are safe with them. You will need this, but please, choose carefully. While it's okay to vent in private to our trusted friends, we also want to be professional when we are at work. Know that many teachers will be happy and upbeat almost all of the time. Others will be stressed and overwhelmed, and a few will be downright negative. It's normal and comes with the territory, but know the best way to keep yourself happy and balanced is to surround yourself with people who work hard to stay positive.
Maintain balance. Take time for yourself, newbies. It's going to be hard to stop working, believe me. Not that it's bad - if you're like me, you're super passionate about the work we do! You might be at home and still working around 10:00, and while we can say it's because we love our work (truth), know that it's also not a healthy habit. Go back to your to-do list. Do what must be done for tomorrow morning. Then put it aside, have dinner with your loved ones, and do something you like to do. Keep up with exercise and eat right. Yes, you will have to lesson plan and grade papers on the weekend, but also find time to do the things you like to do. You have to maintain this balance or you can't sustain working in this career. It will burn you out, and fast.
Offer grace. New teachers, offer yourself grace. You will not get it all done on time, you will know how to do it all, you will even be so overwhelmed at times, it will be all you can do to not break down and cry in front of the kids. Hey, if you're like me, you might even cry in front of that first group. Even if you do, cut yourself some slack. Although the media portrays teachers as lazy, greedy members of society, just because someone went to public school doesn't mean they know what it is like to walk in a teacher's shoes day in, day out. So when things happen that you're not fond of, do your best to let it go and know that this teaching career is a journey, and not one year after the first will ever be as hard.
Marvel. There will be moments when your kinders will want to do Michael Jackson routines. Or, when your firstie will use his saliva to make one of those come-to-life-with-water capsules expand, in his mouth. Your second grader will sit next to her dad, bathing in pride, as he reads a story about her at Family Writing Project. Maybe your third grader needs some tough love and hard conversations. Your fourth graders might write blogs, on their own time, just because they love it, and your fifth graders will probably cheer for their friends at basketball games. Middle school kids will buy the hugest stuffed animals for their significant others on Valentine's day and the hallways will smell like Axe Body Spray.
Take it all in. Live these moments. Close your eyes and take a mind picture to remember always. These little moments will set your heart on fire, and call you back to room 124. Every. Single. Day.
Get the details for this challenge here!