This post is dedicated to every new teacher, every struggling teacher and every teacher who just doesn’t feel like they are quite the teacher they wish to be...YET.
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for first year teachers. I think it’s because of how traumatic my own first year of teaching was. As I look back to that year I can’t believe how naïve I was and some of the mistakes I made. Now, as I sit here writing this post I am happy to have the perspective and experience of a 15 year career in education. I appreciate that I wouldn’t be where I am today without those traumatic, humbling, stressful, and sometimes even embarrassing experiences during my first year. Even with the perspective I’ve gained over the years, I am still not content with myself as an educator. I’m excited that I still have so much to learn.
Yesterday, I had a conversation with a first year teacher who has made amazing growth so far this year. Now, it’s true that she has a lot more growing to do but she knows it and I hope that our conversation helped her understand that it is okay. During our conversation, I was completely honest with her about where she is and where she needs to be. We discussed the areas that she needs to work on and growth she needs to make. I did not hold back when explaining my expectations. We looked at her two evaluations from this year and compared them side-by-side. Together we celebrated the growth she made and had a very clear conversation about the next steps she needs to take in her journey. She said something to me with tears in her eyes that I’ve heard from new teachers many times, “You make it sound so easy! I want to know what to do, like you do.” I hope my reply gave her comfort when I said that I don’t have all the answers and neither do our coaches and other veteran teachers. I went on to let her in on an important secret--we’ve just tried lots of things that didn’t work and found a few things that do.
Luckily for this teacher and for all of the first year teachers out there, it’s just about time for them to be entering the “rejuvenation” stage.
Our new teachers should start to feel like they’re coming down the home stretch of this crazy year. It’s about time that that can see the finish line in the distance. As they head in to the last leg of their first year there are a few things I want them to remember:
To all of my first year teacher friends, welcome to the rejuvenation stage.
You've earned it.
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.