Dear New Teacher,
Welcome to the noblest of all professions, and like all noble journeys, the burden is great and oftentimes feels too heavy. When I think back on the night before my first day of teaching and my first night of being a new parent, my thoughts were incredibly similar, “Who thought it was a good idea to leave me in charge of these little humans?!” Like you, I knew that my new job was extremely important to help develop these precious beings, and I didn’t want to mess them up!
Please let me calm some of your fears. You will mess up. You will make mistakes. But you will also experience victories, you will inspire those little, or big, humans; and you will find your calling along the way.
Don’t be afraid of those mistakes. They will guide your decisions and increase your wisdom as you keep growing. They will give you clarity when your students mess up, too. We all deserve second [and tenth] chances. Show your students how to make things right by your own example of a growth mindset!
Your passion that steered you onto this path will give you the strength to take chances that others would never dream up! Your passion, and possible youth (or youth in spirit), will be your greatest asset in this new world! There may be those along the way who tell you you can’t do it or why even try, but don’t listen to those voices. They need you to remind them it’s still possible. Do it! Your students will never forget it!
Whether it’s your faith, your pump-you-up-playlist, a glass (or two) of wine, and/or a supportive group of family and friends, make sure you have them in place for times to celebrate your victories, or when you need to reflect on what went wrong. Keep some Advil and Epsom salts handy. The mental and physical exhaustion is real, and learning how to take care of yourself outside of work needs to be a priority to successfully finish.
You’ve probably heard the saying “No man is an island” and it’s definitely true in our field; we, teachers need each other. If you are blessed to be given a mentor teacher who will guide you through the first years, like I was, be vulnerable and listen to him or her. You’ll know their feedback is priceless when it serves to build you up and allow you to learn from challenges. Ask questions, observe them teach, share your thoughts and concerns. If you don’t have that mentor in your life, look me up on Twitter @mjmcalli and I will introduce you to an Army of Educators who will help and inspire you. I’ll be one of them, too.
Classroom and school-wide community is important. Please, please keep in mind that while parents may not appear perfect or make the decisions you’d make, almost all of the parents I’ve met love their children and would sacrifice their lives for them. In fact, they are the experts when it comes to their children, and to build community, we have to listen and support them to have it in return. Keep that in mind during hard conversations that you need to make when talking with those incredibly important people.
Educate yourself on signs of abuse. Make that call to save their lives, even through the confusion and guilt: It always matters. Our young people look to us as a lifeline. While creating a safe environment to learn, the trust our students place in our hands is immense.
This journey of teaching is challenging, but it’s probably the most rewarding, too! Okay, I’m a bit biased, but you have the opportunity to speak into so many lives, it’s also quite humbling. Your students will remember the songs you sang together, the jokes, the fun, and discipline including everything on the social emotional spectrum.
Welcome, New Teacher, and thank you for embarking on this journey with all of us!