I can still remember back to my first year walking into my classroom. There was the sheer excitement of walking into this blank canvas and knowing that it was my responsibility to fill it with resources, materials, and make it a condusive and cozy learning environment.
But one thing was for sure, looking back on it all, educating was so much more than a Pinterest ready classroom. If there is anything I can share with new Educators here are those truths:
- You only have a year. And it’s really not even that, you have about 9-10 months to impart knowledge between breaks, inclement weather days, and other school holidays. It’s really going to go by quickly. Make sure you capture moments via photos and videos and focus on the little things because as the saying goes, you’ll realize that they were the big things.
- You’re imprinting in a life for all their life. The way you greet the children in the mornings and send them on their way in the evening to the way you present yourself in speech and style will all imprint on their hearts and minds forever. Whatever grade you teach when these kids are adults and they speak about that grade level, your name is going to come up as having been responsible for them. Think now on what you want them to say and remember because they will.
- You’re stronger than you think. I remember days I just wanted to run in the bathroom and cry and there were for sure moments when I did. This work is tough, kids will disappoint you, admin will tell you to figure it out and you’ll feel like you don’t have adequate support. Kids will get into fights, you won’t have time to finish your lunch, a parent will fuss at you for no reason, and then you’ll look at your paycheck and say “THIS is all I took home this pay period?! I QUIT” but you won’t because you love what you do. You are stronger than you think and braver than you know. Some aspects of Education can’t be explained but only experienced. Trust that you have the courage to see it through.
- You are not your title. Yes your badge may say teacher but you are nurse, counselor, school mama, psychologist, referee, chef, party planner, event manager, and webmaster if you keep a teaching blog. Your job extends far past a title.
- Your position is a privilege. You spend more time with these children than their parents. You should not take that for granted. You have so much opportunity for influence and impact, lead well.
The last piece of advice is : You have a life outside of work, don’t live at your school. Dedication is a beautiful quality to have but there is such a thing as living at school. I’ve seen teachers who come to work at 6:00 am leave the building daily at 8:00 or 9:00 pm. I know Pinterest can suck you into all it’s cute little activities/centers/projects and décor and you’ll want to stay and hash it out, but go home! Don’t come back on Saturday or Sunday, enjoy your spouse or family if you have them. Precious time cannot be given back. Work is a reward but living is where your true riches are.