Dear First Year Me,
It’s the day before school starts on the 20th year of your career. Looking back on all that time, there are some things I wish you would have known as you embark on the very first year.
Get ready for a bumpy ride. Finding out that you were pregnant two days before back to school PD was a shock, I know. And I know you have pretty bad morning sickness. I know that you throw up every morning before school, and you can only eat ice chips until lunch time. No one notices the broken blood vessels in your eyelids.
It’s going to be okay.
After all the jobs over the years, you have finally found your career. Your calling. All of the sacrifice, all of the worrying, and all of the hard work is going to be worth it. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. There are going to be some awesome highs- becoming team leader, getting to have an elective you created, piloting the GT program, winning teacher of the year for the district, and having some of the most amazing students that go on to do incredible things. Those are just some of the wonderful things that will come your way in the next 20 years.
But you need to know that there will be difficult times as well- getting transferred from your dream job, being put on a growth plan because of personality conflicts, getting non-renewed because you don’t want to coach cheer, finding it hard to get an interview with 15 years experience because they can hire a first year for so much less, having to pay $1500 a month for health insurance for your family- and you will get through them.
It all comes down to the fact that you have found your place. You are a teacher. No matter what else is happening around you, find comfort in the fact that you will impact and change students’ lives for the better. You will continue to learn and grow in your knowledge of your subject, and you will never rest on what you did last year. You will find inspiration in the most unlikely of places, and it will drive creativity and engagement into your lesson planning. You will end up at a school that values you as a teacher, and not as a person who just prepares kids for a test. You will work with some awesome people, and you will rise above those that don’t lift others up. You will learn that gratitude is a much more powerful motivator than negativity. And you will find a renewed sense of purpose just when you think you’ve lost it for good.
Teaching is not just your job, it’s your gift. As you go through this first year, trying to understand how it can ever get better, rest easy in the knowledge that it will. You will fall, but you will always get up, dust yourself off, and rise to the challenge.
20th Year Me