Are you getting ready to head into your first year teaching? Are you simultaneously more excited than ever AND completely overwhelmed with no idea where to start? Don't worry. That's completely normal! We've got you covered. Backstage Pass to Teaching is a blog series written especially for YOU. We will be posting every Monday this summer with a topic specifically related to you. Even better, you are going to get two entirely different perspectives on that topic!
On behalf of the worldwide teaching community, let me say...
My name is Beth, and I am so glad you are here. You are going to have an amazing year! You have been preparing for this for years, and are about to embark on a life-changing journey. My friend Tonja from Smart Puppy Learning and I are very much looking forward to sharing ideas with you along the way. I am confident that if you stick with us through this blog series, you will be even more prepared for the year. This week, we are sharing a little bit about our own teaching journeys so you can get to know us better!
Tip #1: Get someone to take a better picture of you on your first day of teaching than I did!
I have worked in a variety of settings for the 12 years I have been teaching, but I will NEVER forget that first year. I began my career in Indiana as a middle school special education teacher for students with emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities. To be honest, it wasn't originally a part of the plan. I had an elementary education license, but was hired on an emergency license with the contingency that I get certified in those specific areas within two years. Even though I was terrified that I wouldn't be prepared enough to do the best job, I am so thankful that I was placed into that situation! I learned so much from my first students about the importance of individualizing instruction so that everyone was engaged. I also learned that LOVING your students trumps any level of expertise. When in doubt, just LOVE THEM.
The time in which I convinced my entire class that I met up with Justin Beiber one evening after school.
After 5 years in that setting, I really missed my family, so I moved back to Ohio. I taught for two years in a VERY small, rural school. I was 30, single with no prospects, and working in a village... Hence, the nickname "Schoolmarm" was born! I worked as an intervention specialist again for one year, which was so much fun. The district was really supportive of giving my students opportunities for hands-on, real-world experiences that would be meaningful to them. The grant funding that position ran out, so my second year, I was moved into 4th grade Math and Science. I channeled my best British accent to make coordinate planes and decimals more interesting. Whatever works, people!
Ok, so I didn't actually love this moment. That's my window. In a million pieces.
Budgets got cut, and so did I, which brings me to my current district. I began teaching third grade at a 100% poverty, Title 1 elementary school. Being a teacher is hard no matter where you work, but friends, teaching amidst extreme poverty brings hard to new levels. Wait-- Why would I want to tell you this? Aren't things all supposed to be all rainbows and sunshine and Pinterest-Perfect your first year?! NO. I promise you that it most definitely will NOT be. I want you to know that up front so that when it gets tough, you know that there isn't something wrong with you. It's completely NORMAL. I have been there. I have come home crying every night for weeks. I have been robbed (literally), beat down (figuratively), and to the edge of exhaustion like I've never experienced before. I have felt demoralized, defeated, and like nothing I do really makes a difference. I have asked myself if I went into the wrong profession. I have wanted to just quit. But the beauty of the mess is that it brings people together to strive towards a common goal, and together we achieve more than we ever could have on our own. If you come to that place this year, PLEASE, reach out. Connect. I promise that you are not alone. (We made a >>Facebook group<< especially for you to do just that!)
Spring = Dandelions by the handful.
During those three years, I was blessed enough to be selected to mentor several new teachers. Once our district decided to hire mentors full-time, the teachers I mentored told me I really needed to apply for that job. I thought for sure they would pick someone that had been teaching longer than 10 years, but they hired me! I have been working full-time as a mentor to new teachers in our district now for two years. I do miss having my own classroom and students, but I love being able to encourage them, help them try new strategies, and be a listening ear when they need to vent. I am so humbled that I get to be a part of so many other classrooms. I consider it such an honor to help teachers stay motivated and encouraged amidst the current culture that seeks to defeat them. I love, love, LOVE it!
Thank you again for joining us on this journey. Before you go, you definitely want to click on the photo below to get to know Tonja better!
Also, be sure to stay tuned for next week's post all about writing a résumé! We will tackle both traditional and creative ideas, as well as provide free templates! Until then, come sign up for our private >> Facebook group << and say hey!