Dear new teacher me,
You started teaching with a vision; protect and nurture your vision as your first-born.
Teach from your heart, even when it hurts, even when you get hurt.
Bend with the winds but continue to grow. If you lose a few branches in the storms, know you will re-grow new ones.
Try to not let friendships, popularity, or group dynamics cloud your professional judgement. But accept if they do. Move forward from there.
Accept the off days, weeks, months or even years. Know it as part of a healthy cycle.
Know that it is OK to step away from your career for family, children, illness, or relationships. You will come back and find your stride.
Make ‘bubble bath’ reflection time part of each day. And then put the day away.
Accept your practice as not perfect and will never be such. It will be in progress and that…is perfect. Teaching is a process and never a static, organized binder.
It is OK to get tired and discouraged. This is an important part of the growth cycle and will drive you forward.
Figure out how you recharge. Weave this into your weekly routine.
Accept your limits and the fact that you have limits. You are enough as you are. I will say it again: you are enough.
Don’t beat yourself up for the small mistakes you will undoubtedly make early on (and throughout). Celebrate each one with the certainty that you will be better tomorrow.
Let go of the small stuff not directly related to student learning. Let go of the number of scissors, glue sticks, and white board markers, etc.
Share your foibles, challenges and mistakes with your students; they will learn more from you when they see you as human.
Say sorry when you accidentally hurt student feelings. They will understand.
Ask for help when you need it and as soon as you need it. Everyone struggles. You too will be a mentor one day.
Remember that you are enough; your enthusiasm, your youth, your focus, you do not need to be everything to everyone.
Everyone is carrying their own bag of rocks; don’t judge practices, attitudes or outlooks. Who someone is today may not be who they were yesterday, or who they will be tomorrow.
Your heart will be broken. Students you love will leave. You will love again. And again. It is OK. It is OK to love with your whole heart. I promise.
Follow your passion and interests. Don’t ever be ashamed when you follow your own unique learning pathway. Don’t ever think to yourself: “I am not doing my job”. This is your job; to display passion and interest in topics, ideas, and uniqueness.
Hold your ideas lightly, some will move on and some will grow. Notice and nurture the ones that remain true to you.
Stay young by being young. As soon as you act old you are.
Students will embrace you for who you are and not for what you teach or don’t teach. Be you. Every second.
Keep your heart and mind open. Embrace each day, each student, each moment as you did your first.
Never ever, ever, EVER…be ashamed of loving your job.
Older teacher me