There are so many realities of teaching, both wonderful and challenging, that don’t cross our minds until suddenly we find ourselves living them. We’ve all gone through the B.Ed certification, taught as Teacher Candidates, taken the AQ courses, memorized the buzz words, read the books… the list goes on and on. All of these things are there to prepare us for teaching, though I’m now determined that nothing truly prepares us until we’re actually doing it.

I’m currently in my second LTO position teaching a grade 2/3 class and I’m learning new things every single day. For anyone else starting their careers like me, I want to share some some of the most important things I have learned so far.

 

Suddenly, it’s all on me. This was a daunting realization but so exciting at the same time. I’m the one responsible for the well-being, success and learning of my students. This is it, this is the real deal.

There is so much more for me to learn. Just when I think I’ve learned so much, I’m quickly reminded about how much I don’t know yet. This is overwhelming for me, as someone who strives to do the best at everything I do. The only way to learn some things is by experiencing them, and I know that with my own years of teaching experience, this wisdom will come.

Much of my first year of teaching will be spent learning how to do things while doing them for the first time. Prime example of this? My first time writing report cards.  Report cards were only one of the many “firsts” that I’ve had this year. This is, in my opinion, the hardest part of being a new teacher. There are so many things we are expected to just know and do that we have never known and never done.

I will have many moments of pride and confidence, but also moments of uncertainty. There have been moments that I’ve felt on top of the world. I’ve had moments of feeling like I’m doing what I was born to do, that I know I’m doing amazing things with my students, and truly feeling that I’m making a difference. There have also been moments of, and I quote, “I have no idea what I’m doing”.

Many things will not go as I planned them. Something that I love most about teaching is that no two days are ever, even remotely, the same. I’ve spent hours planning wonderful lessons and experiences for my students that have completely been derailed by the unexpected – fire drills, forgotten assemblies, tired students, you name it. I’ve learned that my ability to be a good teacher is not only based on pedagogy and planning, but on my flexibility, my open mind, my ability to embrace change and my ability to laugh it off.

It’s more than okay to ask for help. I’m lucky to have worked in two wonderful schools so far with supportive administrators, colleagues and support staff. I think new teachers can all be a bit apprehensive to ask for help at first – we want to prove we can do it ourselves. It’s so important to ask for help from those around you. Experienced teachers have years of wisdom to impart and wasting any opportunity to learn from them is wasted potential for me.

There is no such thing as “being caught up”. Finished marking? More coming my way! Wrapping up a unit? Time to plan the next one! Organized the bookshelf? It’s been two hours and it needs done again! These things will fill my to-do list for the rest of my career. Some items on my list will be small, like organizing bookshelves, and some will be big and important. What is just as important is to take time for myself. There will always be a to-do list looming over me at the end of the day, but taking time for myself and my own well-being is non-negotiable. I’ll be a better teacher for it, too.

It’s impossible to do everything I told myself I’d do. I’ve spent the better part of my life thinking up wonderful things to do with my classroom and my students. My Pinterest board is over-loaded with things I want to do – everything from making adorable reading nook furniture to engaging my students in global initiatives. I’ve learned that it is okay that not all of these things will happen. I’ve learned to prioritize and put my energy where it is most important. Sometimes all my wonderful ideas will have to take the back seat to other things, like eating and sleeping.

Despite all of this, I will never work a day in my life. This is the best thing I’ve learned about this career and about myself. I absolutely love doing this. The late nights, the endless hours of learning while doing, the never ending to-do list, the discouraging moments – they’re not work. They’re a part of being a teacher and making a difference.

 

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