My first year in the classroom, I found myself walking across the courtyard at the end of the day wholly prepared to turn my keys in to my principal because I simply had enough.
In fact, this happened more than once.
I felt like I was completely cheating students out of the quality education they deserved. I felt like someone else needed to be in my place who was more worthy of the position.
I had the credentials. I had the training. I approached each day completely fired up to make important connections. But at the end of each day, I felt thin as a sail, useless, with no wind.
Each time, a funny thing happened on the way to the principal’s office. I was encouraged either internally or externally. Each time, something pulled me back in and made me stay one more day.
Have you ever felt this way? Perhaps you feel that way right now. If you can relate to that ghostly, empty feeling at the end of the day, these tips are for you:
Find a safe place.
One of my safe places was in the room of a senior teacher.
This teacher had 20 years under his belt and held a National Board Certification to teach the same subjects I was struggling through.
Through inquiry and curiosity, I was able to learn tips, tricks and solid teaching practices to get me through the day.
I also learned a valuable lesson: a large part of teaching is stealing (borrowing). Borrow lessons, activities and strategies others have found successful and make them your own.
From day one, vow to become the expert.
Attend training on relationship-building and subject-specific strategies. These two things will make a world of difference in your early years. No student learns from a teacher they don’t like or thinks doesn’t like them. The subject-specific strategies will be the beginning of an amazing bag of tools.
Go to practice.
I would take time out of my afternoon to regularly attend athletic team practices and games.
Seeing the students outside the classrooms brought school back home to my heart, and I gained many allies in the classroom who may have otherwise not got on board. I would not recommend coaching your first year but become part of the fabric of the school by becoming and remaining visible.
About midway through my third year, I made a startling observation. As students were scurrying around the classroom working on projects, students coming in tardy, the phone ringing, students knocking on the door to retrieve students to sign out at the office, maintenance people changing air conditioning filters and filing my students out of the room for a fire drill I realized, “I got this.”
I was now able to handle any eventuality that occurred and, most importantly, I could teach. I was finally worthy.
Guess what? So are you.