As the end of the school year approaches, I find myself getting more reflective and more excited to plan for my next year of teaching. I know it’s not quite the end yet, but my students seem to be starting to think so. Additionally, my first-year review was finalized yesterday and so I feel like it’s reinvigorating me to the same excitement I had when I was planning my classroom last year. This time around, I have a whole school year of experience in my own classroom under my belt to decide what worked, didn’t work, and new things I definitely want to try. Since this blog has become a cluster of thoughts about all the things in my life I’m passionate about, here are my cluster of thoughts about my (almost completed) first year of teaching.
1. I LOVE TEACHING!!!!!
My first year of teaching has not been the nightmare that many people have painted it to be. I know what a nightmare job is to me (it’s so different for everyone). I came from my nightmare job (that I thought was my dream job) to pursue teaching and I could not be more grateful that I landed in the school/ grade-level/ and profession that I did. There is not one ounce of me that feels like I can’t be myself in the classroom or at school. I enjoy everything from mulling over how to manage a student’s outlier behavior to making copies to watching my students joke around. That is not to say, I do not have days (consecutive sometimes) where I’m tired and I feel like I have no more energy left to help a student out (who is asking me for the 6th time what they are supposed to be doing). Or days where I feel ineffective or inadequate as a teacher. However, I enjoy every moment of my job in the sense that no matter how much work goes into it, it does not feel like work. I feel like I’m also utilizing every last talent that I possess daily, and that challenge energizes me. That challenge also allows me to own my work in a way I have never been able to before. I even feel a sense of tingly inspiration when I see other teachers kicking ass (in a really non-envious, yet ambitious goal-setting way to look for the steps to get there).
2. I am not Inadequate, I am just Learning
Obviously, it’s only my first year, and obvious human thoughts lead me to feeling inadequate. However, when I watch seasoned teachers, it gives me hope that there are strategies and options that I have not yet even touched on. I think any feeling of defeat this year stems from me feeling like I’ve run out of things to try. BUT THERE IS ALWAYS MORE!!!! Thank the planet for experienced teachers, teaching blogs, and Instagram. Which gives me this feeling of “I get knocked down, but I get up again!” And this feeling is especially amplified when I think of the possibilities of the plethora of things I can try on my class next year. So, it’s exciting to me when I have the chance to sign up (and attend) a new training, research a new strategy, pick another teacher’s brain. It gives me the same feeling of playfulness as I used to have when I got to try out an extracurricular activity like swim or tae-kwon-do.
3. I don’t really think about they pay…
It’s odd how before, I used to obsess over my paycheck and whether I had enough money left to save for the month. Or whether my efforts were “worth” the money that I was getting. I guess this is a sign that I’m a sucker for following my dreams over making a buck and there may come a time where I regret saying this. In any case, my paycheck comes, the same time every month with enough for me to pay my bills and save and I never question if I’m getting paid a fair wage. Teachers get a lot of attention for how “low” their pay is. And of course, if they increased our wages, I wouldn’t be complaining. But, I’m not complaining now and I find solace in knowing that we get a steady increase over time and we get a lot of benefits that are practical. I’m sure if there were budget cuts/etc. my mindset would change. Which leads me to…
4. Self-Care has become my Priority!
Without getting into the politics of how detrimental privatizing public education would be (especially for students), I am eternally grateful to be working a job that I love because it energizes me. Because this job energizes me and I feel financially taken care of, I am driven to do my best daily. If I sacrifice any area of my physical and mental health (even if I’m sacrificing it for work) I am sacrificing my ability to teach the next day. So, I sleep on time, eat good foods on time, workout on time, because it makes me better at doing what I love. I just pray and hope that public education will always be protected, but I guess a new reflection would come if anything were to change.