An open letter to next year’s beginning teachers:
You are about to embark on an amazing experience. You won’t believe anything that I’m saying to you now. For example: You won’t be the person you are now in four months; your experiences will reshape you. You will discover just how much strength you have. “Strength?” Yes, strength. You will come home exhausted and you will return to school the next day and do it all over again. But, you will find out that you can do it. You will ask yourself: “When does the crying stop?” It will because you will adapt and grow. There are things you’re worried about now and there are things you are clueless about. Those will be reversed in about three months. Not to belittle your concerns but your number one concern will become your students. They will be the real judge of your lesson plan, your classroom management, the classroom layout, and your attitude under a lot of stress. They will remind you when things aren’t going well: listen to them. However, you’ll need to learn how to listen to them because they won’t say it in ways you’re accustom to; they speak their own language. It can be their facial expression, where they sit in class, and what they write or don’t write down. Pay attention to them. Be ready for them. How? Take care of yourself. That lesson plan is garbage unless you have a full night’s sleep. Connect with them. Greet them as they walk in your classroom because it’s now their classroom. Make them feel welcome. Make yourself welcome. Open the door and your heart. They’ll know if you’re being fake. That content you’re sharing goes a long way when you present it with your genuine self. If you’re being honest with them, it means you’re being honest with yourself. Rewrite the lesson plan if it didn’t work the first time. Scrap it if it’s not working in the moment. You’re the teacher. You’re in control. You got this. And when you don’t: ask for help. Every teacher in your building was once a first-year teacher. You have more help than you think you do: use it.