Ten Lessons I Learned as a First Year Teacher

As a latecomer into the arena of teaching, I was nervous that I may not have the stamina nor the ability to keep twenty 5th grade students entertained long enough to be educated. Fortunately, for them (and for me), not only did I realize that I did, but I also learned several other undeniable truths for myself that I’d like to share. These are not necessarily listed in order of importance:

1. From the moment I decided that teaching would be my occupation, I have never since walked into a store- any type of store- without trying to figure out a way to use every single piece of merchandise they carry as an educational tool. I don’t have to explain any further, because if you’re a teacher you already know. (Can I get an, “Amen!”?) Oh, look! A box of hair color!!! We could use this in science to discuss the chemical properties, or in reading to compare and contrast how premature graying makes you feel old in comparison to feeling like yourself with this Clairol Natural Instincts 28 Nutmeg Dark Brown! Oh, wait! Look! A hacksaw!

2. Anytime it was scheduled to be my turn for “breakfast duty” it would most certainly be a syrup day. 😑

3.  The first 2 weeks of school took me to a level of tired I hadn’t experienced since I had newborns. Each afternoon I would come home, and within about 30 minutes of sitting on a couch, it was over. Finished. Done. …..zzzzzz

4. I think I may have gotten an average of 4-5 hours of sleep per night those first few months of school. My brain would not turn off the worrying about what all needed to be done the next day, and would not stop making several thousand mental lists of all the things I wanted to be sure NOT to forget. 

5. This one goes hand in hand with my inability to sleep for fear of forgetting something. Unfortunately, once my body did finally succumb to incomparable exhaustion, I would wake every hour on the hour out of sheer terror of sleeping through my alarm. 

6. While using a Promethean Board, or a Smartboard, one should quickly familiarize themselves with the “freeze” button.  This button allows you to freeze the screen, so that your work emails and other personal information from your computer desktop won’t be projected onto your screen in IMAX style for 20 curious little sets of eyes to see. (The stories I could tell…)

7. I remembering being so nervous my first day that I thought I would physically be sick. Those little bodies come strolling into the classroom, and find their seats. They are quiet and timid, and little did they know, I was also a nervous wreck! It got better after I leveled with them, and told them that I understood exactly how they felt. We played some fun icebreaker games, and just like that, the fear started to disappear.

8. Teachers are a special classification of people who have evolved into super-human creature which can go DAYS without having to take a bathroom break. If you are fortunate like I am, and have an assistant who can help out, this isn’t really an issue. If you do not, may I suggest stocking up on cranberry juice and AZO Standard. 

9. The teachers I work with on our fifth grade hall are outstanding women. I would have never been able to get through the first year without their constant support and encouragement. You have to work as a team. You have to be a team player. If our ultimate goal is the success of our students, it is imperative that we all work together. There isn’t time for dissention among the troops. Division is shallow, catty, and frankly, does a disservice to our students. 

10. I had no idea that these 20 little strangers in a time span of 180 days could grab onto my heart like they did. I loved them. All of them. Even those who are “hard” to love. You know who I mean, the really challenging ones. Truth is, I probably even loved them a tiny bit more. Children can’t help what their home life is like. If mom and dad (if there even IS a mom and dad in the pic), if mom and dad don’t care, how can we get frustrated with a student who doesn’t care? We have to love them more. Teach them more. Show them patience more. They can come around. I’ve seen it. 

My first year of teaching is behind me, and I’m entering into my second year. I can’t wait to teach these little people, and to see what all they teach me. Have a good school year, friends.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jennifer belt
    Aug 28, 2016 @ 18:48:57

    I love the one about syrup day! So true!



  2. Charlotte King
    Aug 29, 2016 @ 10:18:02

    I love your writings. I love your heart! What a great teacher you already are. How blessed these children are to have YOU!



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