Friday, March 7, 2014

5 Things to Take In Your First Year

Teachers jobs are NOT easy. By now most of us know this, minus the critics who think they can overpower any thing, but let's be real... Not just ANYONE is cut out for teaching. The saddest part of that statement, is that some teachers aren't cut out for teaching, but they're here. Heck, they're all over. But, what can you do, right? 

I have had friends who went through the entire education program in college, all of the hours, the internships, the seminars, and then stepped foot into their own classroom and RAN. I am writing this as a first year teacher who walked in thinking I had somewhat of an idea of what to expect, HA! Here are my TOP FIVE things that I have learned to ignore, soak in, and appreciate my first year teaching.

1. Veteran teachers, please don't tell first year teachers they will lose their "spunk."
This reallllllly bothers me. I don't know if it's just me, and if it is I'm sorry. BUT -- I pray to GOD, I NEVER lose this passion I have for what I do. It's what I have known I wanted to do since 6th grade. It's what I live to do in all honesty. I love these babies as if they were my own, they will walk out of here in June and 19 little pieces of me will be gone. I spend all my extra money on my classroom to make my days more fun, to make them remember what we have done. I don't EVER, EVER want to get to a year where I am just done, and repeatedly say that over and over. That breaks my heart. These babies, no matter if it's your first year or your sixteenth year, they will ALWAYS need us. 

2. Veteran teachers, don't push your judgement. 
I am not trying to talk down to the experienced, what-so-ever. But I walked in this year being BOMBARDED by several teachers regarding students behaviors and what my expectations should be of these children and left with good luck, they're terrible. Excuse me? Isn't it your job to ensure that they don't get "left behind." How can you tell someone that every single negative thing you can think of about a child and then leave with "good luck." I was very upset and all of the remarks I was being told, and I can honestly say my response to all of it was, I have high expectations for ALL of my kiddos. Not just the "high", or "smart" ones, they all walk into my classroom with the exact same capabilities in my eyes. I will not place one higher than the other based off of past experiences. Oh gosh, this really bothered me so badly. I will send my kiddos to 1st grade with their positives, and if I have any concerns they will be addressed in a positive state, not a label for any of these children. Your labels, and your judgements should be your own opinions which should not be conversed with new teachers or even any teacher receiving that child. Any body could take that and immediately have an annoyance with a child they haven't even met yet. How is that allowing that child to walk into a classroom with a chance? It's not, just don't. Please. 

3. College did NOT prepare you. 
I love my college, I loved (almost) all of my professors. But they did not prepare you for real world teaching. You honestly should double major in special education so you can learn to differentiate for every single one of your students. Not a single student in your classroom of 16-25 will be the same. At all. They all learn at different paces, and they all grow differently. So be prepared to be a frantic mess your first year, your second year, and so on I am sure. Study it up online via blogging, social networking, etc. It has saved my life, hands down. I have met amazing teachers online who can share real life experiences, not just a scenario they gave you in college with zero background knowledge. 

4. If you have great administrators, soak it up.
I'm not trying to be a dang kiss up, or whatever. But I have worked in districts or my Mother has worked with administrators who were awful to their teachers. Who were awful, period. If you work for someone who guarantees to always have your back, who praises you and shares ideas, who will do whatever it takes to ensure you receive respect and allows you to be a lifelong learner (yes NSU that walked away with me) then for heavens sake don't leave!! I can guarantee you, your next school won't be like that. Maybe the next one, but you won't go to two in a row. Administrators play a huge role in the outcome of your career, and if you find a district where your principal, vice/assistant principal, IS, RS, etc. etc. have your back and take care of you. Thank Jesus, because it does make your work a lot more enjoyable. 

5. Avoid the negativity of others.
It's going to happen. There are going to be teachers who have problems, who hate their lives, who don't care to be at work, who push worksheet after worksheet so they don't have to deal with the kids. DON'T LOOK UP TO THIS. Please. Change the mold. Be positive and up lifting. Be crazy and wild, love what you do. When you love what you do, it shows. Happiness is contagious. Granted there will always be those who thrive off the drama and negativity, just avoid it. Shut your door and teach these babies the best way you can. Have fun. You are changing the lives of others, and you are being something to these kiddos they may not EVER get somewhere else. Leave an imprint on them, they will love you for it, and I promise they will thank you when they're older and always remember you.

If you get in to your first year and find that it is just not for you, that's totally okay. At least you have the decency to resort to something that will make you happy. Just don't be the teacher who lucked out and received tenure, and uses the same lesson plans from 1989 and sits at her desk and eats breakfast while the kids stare at you in disgust. Don't be that teacher. If you ever lose your way and need some spunk, watch Ms. Frizzle a couple of times, and act 5 years old again if you teach in the elementary, the kids will love it and will never forget how crazy and fun their teacher was. 

Mrs. Thomas 

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