I haven't been a teacher for too many years, only about 7, but the things I have learned in the past years in the classroom are worth their weight in gold. I only wish I had seen this blog post before I step foot that first day in the classroom! You see, for me, teaching isn't just a job. It's way more than that. And that first year, I didn't know what I was really getting into. I just knew I wanted to be a teacher and spend my days motivating, inspiring, and teaching. So here we go : 1 - It does get easier and faster I spent so many long hours that first year, planning, organizing, photocopying, laminating (and then cutting.. ugh, I hate cutting out laminated stuff), decorating, implementing, etc. And yes, especially your first year (and then maybe a couple more after that), you are spending A LOT of time in your classroom. You're getting the hang of it, you're learning your curriculum, you're figuring out what style of teaching jives best with you. But it does get better! You learn short cuts, your repertoire of websites and resources vastly improves, you get quicker, you learn what you *must* do and what you can simply glaze over quickly. You learn how to decorate so it's relevant to your students, you learn how to grade your students so that you're not spending hours and hours grading those English papers. So don't worry if you're spending upwards of 60-70 hours a week for the first couple of years (and still feel like you're not getting it all done), it's normal! And it does get better! 2 - You'll never get it all done If you're a good teacher, you know what I'm talking about. The job is never done. Never. There is always more you can do and sometimes, this really wears you down. Especially in the first couple of years when you're working so hard and so many hours. Trust me, you'll never ever be able to get it all done. But you learn that it's ok. You give it your all, but at the end of the day, you cannot let it run your life. You learn to do what's important for your students, what's important for you. This does not mean you stop working hard! After 7 years, I still put in a decent 45-50 hour work week, and there are some times when that number jumps way way up (report cards, progress reports, end of year, etc). This is just to let you know that it's ok to feel like you can't get it all done. Because trust me, there's always more you can do! 3 - Not a single teacher has it all Except me. Sorry, I'm done laughing now. But seriously, I know you know that "superstar" teacher, the one that seems to just do it all, and amazingly at that. But trust me, that teacher isn't perfect. Maybe that superstar teacher simply can't figure out how to engage her students during math class, or the bulletin boards are in desperate need to be refreshed, or she doesn't communicate with parents enough, or she doesn't have a proper home/school balance. I have known some pretty amazing teachers in my career so far, and they are all absolutely amazing in their own way, but they're all very different and they all have at least one area in which they can improve. 4 - Don't compare yourself to others To follow with my last point - it is so easy, especially that first year, to look at the other teachers and see all the things that they do that you aren't. It's so easy to be critical of yourself! And I think it's ok to be critical of yourself and see things you'd like to improve on, but don't think you have to do it all this year. And remember, other teachers were exactly in the same position you are at one point or another! So don't compare yourself to other teachers. Don't think "Mr. Jones can do it all, I just can't compare, my poor students." Don't do it. You know, just the fact that you think this is amazing! It means you care about the type of teacher you are and you want to strive to do better. Realize you will have things you want to improve on, make a plan, and then keep on going! 5 - You will say the wrong thing At one point or another, you will say the wrong thing. It's inevitable. You're human! It'll happen when you least expect it. Maybe that one kid just couldn't stop talking and your patience was wearing thing. Maybe you were up all night worrying about your upcoming evaluation and you are overtired. Maybe you're distracted by the two kids in the back that might or might not start fighting. Either way, something is going to come out of your mouth that you really didn't mean to say. Deep breath! Simply apologize and move on.
I once completely forgot a students name. Completely blanked! I did finally remember it, but I knew that I had really hurt her feelings. I immediately apologized, but when I went home, I wrote her a letter about who she was. I might have forgotten her name, but I didn't forget who she was. What can you add to the list?