Reflections of a First Year Teacher:: The Things I Didn’t Know

Have you ever reflected on the things you wanted to be when you grew up and thought, “well that didn’t go as planned!” I wanted to be a veterinarian, a neuroscientist, an anesthesiologist, a nurse, an architect, a psychiatrist, and so much more… but somehow ended up pursuing ministry. I never would’ve guessed it. In my time helping adults and children dig deep, make connections, and embrace discovery, I realized that teaching was my passion. Insert PIVOT here! Long story short, you are reading the ramblings of a first year teacher, and good gracious, my appreciation for teachers has increased exponentially.

Reflections of a First Year TeacherI went into teaching for the joy of fostering a love of learning, and for the glimmer in a student’s eye when a concept clicks. There is nothing compared to the excitement of something difficult becoming something mastered and watching the self-efficacy of a child be built upon the trellises of small wins and encouragement. I promise you, as a first year teacher, I’m not the only one who feels this way. I have been blown away by my team and the heart, love, and intentional planning that goes into making each day a day for growth, fun, and joy for our students.

What it Takes

What I didn’t know was how much it actually takes.

I didn’t know that my workday would go well beyond the last bell.

I didn’t know that my weekends would be filled with planning.

I didn’t know that I would spend so much of my own money investing in my classroom.

I didn’t know that family nights would sometimes mean grading papers together.

I didn’t know how much time went into preparing for differentiated learning and accommodations. I didn’t know the patience it requires to teach children on completely different levels. I didn’t realize the skill it requires to balance the push of continuing to challenge a gifted learner and the pull of getting struggling students on level.  

I didn’t realize the energy it takes to keep up with thirty students with different personalities, work ethics, interests, and temperaments, all while maintaining a healthy learning environment.

As a first year teacher, I didn’t know that I would also be a counselor, a social worker, a coach, a cheerleader, an investigator, a mediator, and so much more {teachers, what hats have you worn?}

I didn’t know that my head would be consumed with thoughts of how to be better, how to uplift the child who hurts, inspire the child who lacks motivation, affirm the child who yearns for approval, bring peace to the child in turmoil.

I didn’t know some nights would be spent in tears, praying for families whose struggles kept me up at night.

I didn’t know just how much I would love them.

There’s so much I didn’t know. Would I change paths at this point, knowing what I know now? Absolutely not. Teaching gives me life, gives me joy.

Perspective as a Parent

But, as a parent, I can say that I might have had a little more patience when I waited for an email response from my children’s teachers, or at least given a little more grace when I followed up. {Am I saying not to advocate for your child? Absolutely not! Be firm when you need to, but pour out grace when you can.}

I can say that I might have been more proactive, touching base before something small turned into a big issue.

I can say that I would send positive notes and emails, because when the only time you hear from parents is when they are upset, words of affirmation are absolutely life-giving.

As I wrap up this year as a first year teacher, I can now say that I would’ve spent more time acknowledging and appreciating the teachers who pour out so much of themselves to help raise up my children because, really, that’s what teachers are doing.

Teachers, I appreciate you more than ever. From one teacher to another, you are amazing. From a parent, I consider you an absolute blessing in my life.

Thank you for all you do!

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