Dear First-Teacher Me: An open letter to first-year teachers everywhere
Being a first-year teacher can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. And while it might seem like you are always swimming upstream, I promise, it does get easier. It just takes time.
Dear First-Year-Teacher Me,I see you. I see you there, sitting alone in your classroom during your prep period completely overwhelmed as your to-do list grows three times as fast as you can cross items off.
I see you there sitting at your dining room table all by yourself late at night as you finalize your lesson plans for the next day...only to do the same thing the very next night.
I see you there in your new workplace trying to learn everyone’s names. There are so many new people to meet and remember.
I see you there wondering how you will ever grade, enter, and return all of these assignments before the next batch comes in.
I see you there reading one chapter ahead as you teach a mandated book that you’ve never read before.
I see you there, sitting in your classroom, wondering what in the world you got yourself into.
I see you there declining dinner invitations on Friday night with your friends because you are just too tired to go out.
I see you there, sitting in your car after a stressful day, as the tears form in your eyes because you are wondering how in the world you will be able to do this all again tomorrow — wondering if you made the wrong career choice.
I see you stressing out feeling as if you will never catch up with all of your tasks.
I see you there, as you look at yourself in the mirror in staff restroom, wondering if you’ll ever have it as pulled together as some of your new colleagues. Also, I see you there as you notice the purple pen mark on your cheek and wonder how long it’s been there.
I see you there, standing in front of 34 students, desperately trying to stretch out the last ten minutes of the class period because what you planned did not take as much time as you thought it would.
I see you there, lying in your bed at night, unable to sleep despite how utterly tired you are as the millions of thoughts about teaching, education, and your students race through your mind.
I see you there, staring at your classroom phone, dreading those phone calls home. Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news, but this is all new, and you aren’t quite sure what to say to these parents who are at least ten years your senior.
I see you there, walking to your car, after a long day second-guessing your actions as you managed a situation with a student going through a tough time.
I see you there. I see you.
It is tough. I won’t lie. Your first year teaching will be one of your toughest years. However, this year will not define you. It does get easier. You do get more confident. The content comes easier the more you teach it. Figuring out the timing of everything becomes more second-nature as the years add on.
However, I also see you.I also see you after you have that first amazing moment where everything is in synch, the students were engaged, and the lesson went according to plan. Good job!
I also see you there at a department meeting where you volunteer information for the first time, and it is well-received by your colleagues. That’s a fantastic feeling.
I also see you helping a student learn a new concept, and you were the first teacher who has been able to make this concept stick with this particular student. We all have unique strengths.
I also see you as a student trusts you and feels comfortable enough to confide in you. You are making a difference!
I also see you as you work with a student that other teachers have given up on. I see you making a difference in his life. You will be the teacher he always remembers. You will be the teacher that helped him turn his life around. You will be the teacher that he nearly tackles in a parking lot years later as he runs to hug you and say thank you.
Your first year is tough, but it is also rewarding. Keep plugging through, find a mentor teacher, and just know that gets easier. You’ve got this, first-year teacher.
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