Dear Other New Teachers,
Sam’s friend Bowman asked people to write advice for new teachers and all I could think is, “well crap, I am a new teacher.” In fact, I am an expert new teacher as I have done it twice now. Once, I was a new teacher at a public middle school and then I was a new teacher at a private all girls boarding school. In fact, at my new school people stay like 30- 40 years so I may well be a new teacher for the next 10 years. So, henceforth, I declare myself queen of the new teachers!! I mean, not really, but kinda.
Anyways….being a new teacher is like being in a sea or like a boat or oh wait, I already wrote that post here. You should go read that one, I’ll wait. It’ll probably be better than whatever I write now because I wrote that in the middle of my first year and if you are reading this then you are probably approaching that point. Or maybe you should come back and read that when you are at that point. It might make you feel better. (Because you will either relate or realize how much better you are then me, either way it serves its purpose.)
Okay, here is my first piece of advice: you are not alone. Get your butt on twitters, whine into the facebook, open up g-chat, call your best friend, call your mom, heck call me. We will all listen and we will all understand that you are working harder, longer, and yet still, crappier than anyone else ever because (and this is not sarcasm) it will feel like you are. No matter what you do you will not have the classroom management skills of a fifth year teacher and you most definitely will spend a week straight lecturing even though your ed professor crammed how bad that is in to your head. You will, also, have activities that BOMB. They will also be the worst activities ever, so whine about it. We will listen.
Secondly, something really bad will happen you might fall off a desk, say the wrong thing to a kid, or, you know, you might (will) reply all to an email you didn’t mean to. This, or something else entirely, will happen. If you are in public school you will (by no fault of your own) probably get pink slipped. Everyone will tell you it is just what happens but it will suck, a lot. So fall back on piece of advice number 1 and whine to us. We will listen. And we will understand that it sucks more for you than anyone else because it is happening to you right now. I’m a bit sad just thinking about it.
Third, you will be tired and energized all the time. Yep, tired and energized. Tired when you wake up til the moment the students walk in the room. Then energized til lunch only to feel like food might possibly save you; if you only had time to eat. Then re-energized cause the kids are back! Then tired when they leave right up until the moment your head hits the pillow at which point your mind will replay your entire day and replan the next day until you fall dead asleep. (Where you will dream about teaching, trust me this happens a lot.)
I’m going to stop with four because if you have read all of these things and still want to teach then I guess I only have one thing left to add. You will be satisfied. It might take until the last day of school, but my guess is that several times over your first year teaching this will happen: a student will say something, the principal will notice something, or a parent will write a letter and all of the tired, bad, and aloneness will fade away and you will be satisfied. You will feel a way that only teachers get to feel. And at that point you should again refer to advice number one and tell everyone you know because we will understand and we will listen and your good day will remind the rest of us that those days happen, too. And even less than new teachers need that.
So get your butt on twitter and find me @sophgermain and introduce yourself. Hurry up, your queen is waiting. 😉
If nothing else, good luck this year.
I am sure you will be awesome,
13 thoughts on “Advice from a New Teacher”
Your majesty, I am your humble subject.
Dear Your Royal Newness,
This is a beautiful and true meditation on the new teacher’s experience. I’ll be right behind Sam in the queue of your humble subjects.
– Elizabeth (aka @cheesemonkeysf on Twitter)
I would just add one more thing:
At some magical point, at least once during the year, if you are lucky, the roles will be reversed. There will be a time when you are the student, and the students teach you .
Those can be the best moments of all.
And that is not just for a ‘new’ teacher! That will continue throughout your career and every time it happens you will smile and appreciate the wisdom of students. (After all, you were one at one point.)
I will add that parents are harsh, and they have the ability to make you doubt everything you know to be true and right. They will defend their lying and cheating child, and they might (and have been known to) threaten you harshly. I even had a parent threaten to sue me. Yeah. A handful of parents have the ability to take all of the wind out of your sails–temporarily or permanently; you decide.
Parents can also do the opposite and it means so much more when they do.
So amazingly true!! (Especially the falling off the desk part… for me, anyway).
I thought I was alone in feeling “tired and energized all the time”!!! Thank you, Soph.
Hi, I’m Rei. I wish we had more supports like this as early career teachers. Somehow it helps to hear that it is normal to feel always striving to be less bad than we think we are (even if its not true, we are better than we think usually). Cheers to that ^_^.
Loved this. Especially your other post about the ships–I was cracking up!
Thank you friend. Can you keep reminding me of these things throughout this year? 🙂
I love this post. The issues you address in here are at the heart of why I created the “Disillusionment Power Pack,” a free, one-month series of emails for new teachers during this time of year. Here is the link if you’d like to check it out, and I’d love to hear any thoughts you may have. http://seemeafterclass.net/2015/09/announcing-the-new-teacher-disillusionment-power-pack/#more-1880