Wednesday, July 27, 2016

dear 1st year teacher

Hey all y'all! It's the BigTime Blogging Challenge. I'm writing every day in July to celebrate my blog's three year anniversary! Join me - write your post, link it up with mine, leave some love for blogging friends in the form of comments!

Ahhh, to be young again. I remember the days I was the youngest 20-something trying to keep it together at school. How I wish I had started blogging in those early days! Here's a little note to all the first year teachers who will begin this awesome career this fall...

Dear First Year Teacher,

Your first year. I'm sure you've been surfing teaching blogs and Pinterest for the cutest ideas for your new room. It will look fabulous, I just know it. It's so fun to put a room together. But... It's all for the kiddos that will walk through your doors on that first day in August. So, while I'm sure you've been planning your room and maybe even your first week of lessons and activities so everyone can get to know one another, have you also been thinking about what you might say to the kiddos?

The children in your first class are going to be awesome. Some will be funny, some quiet, some will test your patience. You will learn and grow together. As teachers, we always know we will teach them so much, but it's possible that we don't realize all that they will teach us. There's so many things.

They teach us to have fun.
They are going to quote the books you read in the funniest ways, like asking you, "Can I get back to you on that?" when you ask about homework after reading Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. They are going to get out of their seats just to be funny, and when you ask them to sit down, they'll look at you deadpan and say, "YOLO." Everyone will laugh, including you, and then the kid will, in fact, go back to their seat. They are going to leave their books in your classroom when they have a locker just to try and irritate you, but all in good fun. They are going to try and negotiate chair races down the hall as a reward for finishing their work. These kiddos are creative and witty and will make you laugh, so please take them up on the offer! (And, if you can find the time, write the stories down!)

They teach us about technology.
Let's face it - the students in our classes these days are wired for iPads and Chrome Books. So let them lead. When you don't know how to do something, ask the kids. And not just technology, but everything. Let your room be a class of 31 experts, rather than just one.

They teach us about boundaries.
Kids are kids and they want to do things their way, even when it is in their best interest to do so your way. So, it will be important for you to decide what you want your classroom to look and sound like and pursue those expectations consistently. My first year, my mentor told me this - have procedures, and teach them and practice them. I heard her, but I didn't really hear her. My students my first year definitely taught me about boundaries, and that what you ignore, you accept. So, if you don't want students calling out, do not talk to them unless they follow the expectations for sharing. These are some of the hardest things for us as teachers to do, because what's easiest to do and what's best for kids aren't the same things. So, be consistent, and make your classroom the place you want it by allowing what is okay and halting what is not. Boundaries... kids want them and need them to feel safe!

They teach us to find other solutions.
As much as the writers of standardized tests might like to think so, kids aren't robots and do not think through problems in the same ways. They do not learn in the same ways. As teachers, one important aspect of the work we do is to figure out exactly what works for each student. Most of the kids will get what we're teaching on the first go-around. Then another group will need to hear it in a different way to understand, and a smaller few, even, will need it in three, four, or five different ways. All of our kids are different, and we must work to meet them where they are, and embrace the fact that as teachers, we are on a problem solving mission to help each student reach their greatest potential. They can all do it, it's just a matter of us figuring out how to get them there. This takes creative thinking. Lean on your colleagues. Collaborate with your PLN. There's so many ways to be supported, and when we are supported, children are supported and achieving.

They teach us about love.
You know that kid in your classroom who is swearing at you? Love that kid. And the one who knocks over chairs and hides under tables? It's hard, because it happens almost on a daily basis, but love that kid too. Of course there will be the ones who are easy to love, because they are funny, and giving, and they do everything you ask. But you'll really be learning about love when, in the heat of the moment you can take a second to yourself, breathe in and breath out, walk up to that super hard kid and share the love. I'm not saying give in to whatever they may want at the moment, quite the contrary actually. Give them boundaries, and stick by them firmly, give a consequence, and then tell the child that it's only because you love them so much that you can't let their bad behavior slide. Trust me when I tell you this:

So there's all that, and then there's also an awesome, unforgettable year ahead that you will just love. Savor the moments, newbies!


  1. The way you organized this is great - everything they teach us!
    I love this part: "And the one who knocks over chairs and hides under tables? It's hard, because it happens almost on a daily basis, but love that kid too."

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