Recently, I saw this video created by Edutopia and Soul Pancake.
They asked teachers to write a letter to themselves as first year teachers. I loved the video, and as a reflection for this week, I thought I’d write one to myself.
Well, you made it. You are a teacher–a prize won, and a dream fulfilled. But, your journey is just beginning. You are a little cocky, and you kind of think you have it all figured out. Sorry to break it to you–you’ve got a long way to go. There is this part of you that still holds on to the hurts of you’re own childhood–the education you wished you’d experienced–the resentfulness and blame. You see similar traits of those past teachers in ones standing next to you, and you want to judge them. You want to scream and say, “Don’t you know!” But, the truth is–you–don’t know. What you don’t know is this…..
First lesson– Teaching is Tough. Get ready to take your vitamins! It takes a tremendous amount of energy to teach with passion every day in the classroom. There will be days when your legs feel like lead, your head pounds, and your eyes get blurry. But, the kids don’t care. They want you- all of you every single day, and you will want to give it to them. So, you do what it takes. You drive to the Kroger Pharmacy and pile your cart full of vitamin drinks, supplements, and calcium chews. You stay up late and work your tail off to create meaningful lessons–not for praise–but for the kids. You will do this every single day, while also feeling more humbled by the teachers that work around you, knowing that they have dedicated blood, sweat, and tears not just for one year, but many years. Your perception of teachers will change, and you will respect even the burned out and tired ones more deeply realizing with each passing day how tough teaching really is.
Second lesson– You will love it. You think you love teaching now. You’ve had a great time in your student teaching experiences, but that is just the beginning. You’ll get up at 4:30 in the morning- working to be a great wife and mother, but then you will stay up late into the night dedicating yourself to the profession that God gifted for you. Nothing will give you more pride than unlocking your classroom door every morning. Nothing will make you happier than greeting your students each morning in the hallway. Above all, nothing will give you more satisfaction than seeing your students succeed, because that is where the true glory lies. The spark for learning cultivated in your classroom is worth a million headaches, tired muscles and bones. It is priceless.
Third Lesson– You will fail. There will be kids that no matter how much you work with them, they just can’t seem to make progress. This will eat at your soul, and knowing that you are a perfectionist, this will drive you to a near point of insanity. But, I ask you to be patient, and know that you are a great teacher, and remember that teaching is a journey. You will not always get from your students exactly what you desire, but by maintaining a positive attitude and a desire for excellence in each one of them, you are sure to make a positive difference in their lives. No test score equates to the deep impact of a positive teacher who emphasizes the fact that students are more than a test score. They are change makers, dream catchers, and all that is good and honorable. So, don’t get discouraged by failure. The sun will come out tomorrow.
Fourth Lesson–Not everyone will see education like you, and that’s okay. Don’t point fingers, but strive to bring out the best in those around you. Remember that teaching is tough– most teachers are trying their best. So, help them. Look for what is good in them, and help to cultivate that–support them, and in the process they will teach you all their fabulous teaching secrets. Above all–by believing in them you will see the jewels that lie deep in their hearts, their desire to make a difference in students. We don’t all have to think alike, but we can all work together to make a contributing difference.
In closing, remember to be yourself. Be silly in front of your students sometimes, let them see who you are. Know that you will do great things, and your dreams will be achieved. All it takes is a sprinkling of passion, planning, and perseverance, and like magic, your dreams will come true. You will be awesome!
Your Future Self