When I first started teaching, I came across Anne Walker’s open letter to new teachers. Unfortunately she doesn’t post as often anymore, but I really appreciated her words at the time.
Now that convocations are coming up, I’ll share my own open letter to new teachers.
Dear First-Year Teachers,
Congratulations, you graduated! You are now part of a group of inspiring individuals making a change in students’ lives. Learning all the jargon, surviving practicum and acing micro-teaching lessons may have seemed stressful, but what’s coming is even worse.
The first few weeks on the job, you feel like you’re doing everything wrong. All the ideal scenarios you learned in school will go out of the window. You’re in survival mode.
As frustrated and disenfranchised as you feel, this is all part of the ride and everything is okay. You feel like you’re in this by yourself, but you’re not. Here are some tips that I found useful.
Lean on your professional learning network
Look around you, your colleagues were once first-year teachers themselves. Ask them how they coped. Ask questions whenever you’re unsure, or better yet, ask a teacher to be your mentor. Whenever I wasn’t sure of something I was going to implement in my classroom, I’d ask my fellow teachers for their opinions. Articulating ideas out loud is more effective than you’d think. And remember, there really is no such thing as a stupid idea.
Do not try to reinvent the wheel
I remember wanting to impress my coworkers so much in the first year. I slaved over fancy new worksheets for my students. In retrospect, students don’t care how pretty their worksheets are and teachers barely get to see what other teachers are doing. There are plenty of resources out there. Many are better than the ones you’d create, so use them!
Remind yourself of the why
There will be moments where you feel like you are failing. You start to doubt why you entered this profession in the first place. There is a reason why you chose teaching. Remind yourself of it and keep at it. And let me tell you, some things do get easier over time (lesson planning is one!).
I hope these tips help. Teaching and inspiring young minds is an amazing job. Welcome and enjoy the ride!