It happened late last week. I got my schedule of students and my classroom assignments. I never really thought about it until this point, but I have officially made it through my second year of teaching, my first of being full-time. I honestly never thought that I would get so far or be so able to succeed in this environment. Looking back on how I was in school as a student, I never would have thought that entering a school building was one of the best feelings in the entire world. It’s amazing how much I love to teach and inspire others but how scared and fearful I used to feel in the setting where most learning and inspiration takes place.
This year might be a little rough for a couple of reasons. As I count down the hours in my last week of “freedom”, I feel excited for the start of this next year, but anxious about all of the changes and adaptations that I will go through within just the first few weeks back. I know in my heart that I will survive, just as I’ve survived the past few years. But for now, I am fine feeling slightly nervous and unable to put my full level of excitement into the upcoming orientations, trips, and classes.
I guess one of the biggest changes will be positive. I’ve been through this entire process before, so I will be spending more time helping out the new teachers than I will trying to figure my own way through the chaos. I also get my own classroom, though I’m unsure if that will be a positive or negative when I have to share it with at least two other people… I tried setting up the room the other day, only to realize that once all of the tables have been set in their perfect spot for the first day of school, the administration will come in and move them anyway for our first day of teacher orientation meetings. Seems like there should be a law against that! (Just kidding!!)
I’m not so much looking forward to the changing of my students. I am excited to get to know new kids, but I am not so excited to realize that the seniors from last year won’t be roaming the halls as usual. They were truly like my siblings in so many senses of the word, particularly towards the end of the year. I’m praying that it won’t feel like the relationships we’ve built will no longer exist simply because they don’t spend their days in my room anymore.
I’ll just have to put my whole heart into this year and pray that things work out. But for now, I feel like there is one thing that I can do to help. So below is the list of at least ten things that every teacher should remember in order to succeed throughout any school year. Just, please, remember that I made this list and it might not make sense to everyone.
- Remember that you have the ability to change people’s lives. Never stop trying even if you have the worst day in the world. One day, even those students who say they hate you may turn around and be happy to know that you were there to support them through anything.
- Allow the creativity to flow. I’ve decorated my bulletin board with sayings that don’t even pertain to Math (well one does). Instead, I’ve made a sign saying “Please excuse the mess, my children are making memories.” Yes, I stole the quote from somewhere else, but I truly believe that having a relaxed atmosphere will make any class or day better in the end. I know I need to work more on sticking to the rules in my syllabi but I also see the huge advantages of treating the classroom like a home.
- Find a group of supportive teachers who will make your life easier and will listen to you as you talk out your bad moments and exult in the good. My support system somewhat fell apart from last year since so many teachers moved on, but I feel like I can make a support system again just as easily as I did last year. I just hope that I don’t have to do all of the supporting since I’m no longer the newbie.
- When in doubt, grade. If you don’t have anything to grade, then organize. These are the two things that will keep you distracted from drama and politics of schooling. You’ll also get brownie points from the parents and the students if you grade quickly and keep in contact with them to make sure things stay organized.
- Rely on your students to help carry the load. Allow them to make decisions (within reason), ask them for help when grading or recreating your bulletin board. I’m particularly lucky with my students; most of them seek ways to help rather than dreading to be asked.
- When your students make goals at the beginning of the year, make your own. If your kids don’t already do something along the lines of goal setting, make sure they start.
- Bring parts of your life into your work day. Don’t tell everyone your deepest, darkest secrets, and be careful who you tell what to, but letting your students into little tidbits about your life will make them more comfortable approaching you for help and advice. Just don’t give out any advice that you don’t truly believe in. And never down talk any of your coworkers, parents, etc. within the school system (not that you should ever talk that way at all).
- Eat healthy and take the stairs as often as possible. Sometimes it’s ridiculous how fast you can gain weight or get exhausted from standing on your feet all day; you stand ALL day but you don’t necessarily move around! Don’t overcompensate by eating too much. I’m going to try not to eat such unhealthy foods this year either.
- Don’t do it unless you love it. Make sure that you are in it for the kids, for the love of teaching, and for the chance to change the world for the better. If you’re in this career for the money, the “fame”, or any other selfish reason, get out and get out now. (I know, a little too late considering most schools start next week, but oh well…)
- Finally, don’t forget you have your own life to live. Making your job an enjoyable part of your life is extremely important, but it’s hard to realize that you are leaving your family and friends behind when the job gets too busy. Try not to let it happen. I myself know that I am super nervous about the lesser amount of time that I will have to see my boyfriend, my sister, my parents, and my pup once school returns. I’m not sure why I’m so nervous about that now, but I am. Last year at this time I was single. Now I wonder how my boyfriend will feel once it seems like I am “leaving him out” because of my lack of time. And I hope my family won’t suffer from that as well because now I am sharing my time with them and work AND my man.
I’m praying everything works out. I guess we will start to find out on Monday when all of this school year nonsense comes to be reality.