student growth objectives

Dear First Year Teachers,

September is starting to come to an end, and today is officially the start of fall (even though for us it feels like it started a while back). I just wanted to offer a little love and support to all of you, because I remember being a first year teacher as the new school year shine wore off.

Right now, you might be feeling really overwhelmed. Maybe your district is really into data and student growth objectives and has all of these programs and acronyms in place that you’ve never heard of but everyone else seems to know. Maybe your class sizes are huge, or you’ve been given 12th graders or 8th graders or 5th graders that think they know everything because they’re the big dogs on campus and what do you know that they don’t? Maybe you’ve already encountered a parent that is starting the year off a little pushy. Maybe the copy machine just keeps breaking every gosh darn time you try to use it. And maybe classroom management is giving you nightmares.

Maybe you’re still riding the new school year high, and are thinking “WHAT? People feel that way?!” But (and I don’t mean this in a mean or cynical way) chances are that at some point this fall you’re going to feel overwhelmed.

I just want to remind you all that you can do this.

First year teaching is easily one of the most terrifying and difficult things I have ever experienced. The first full week of school, I threw up before leaving for work one morning because I was so afraid of facing one of my classes. I remember feeling overworked and frustrated by all the planning and grading and meetings to get observed. I remember having to drill in my brain that observations were not there to negatively criticize me, despite my anxiety about how people perceive me. But I promise, it’s worth it.

It’s worth it because for every intimidating parent, I guarantee you’re going to have at least one parent that trusts and supports you, and that at least once a Back to School Night or parent teacher conference season you’re going to have a parent coming up to you saying, “My child LOVES your class.” Even when you’re convinced that your kids hate you during the midwinter slump or testing season.

It’s worth it because at least one kid a year is going to start this September hating the subject, and tell you at the end of the year that your class was their favorite. Or they will be looking for books and articles about what they learned in your class on their own time, because despite all of your panic that they hate your class, you got them interested in finding connections to topics you covered outside of the classroom.

It’s worth it because a few kids will go from afraid of their own shadows to curious students that are willing to work with others. They might even start to become leaders in your room.

So as the year starts to get more hectic, and curriculum goes into full swing, here’s what I have to say: Hang in there.

Teaching is a bumpy ride, but it’s also going to be so worth it. You’re going to make an amazing difference in your students lives, whether you (or they) realize it or not.

Sincerely,

A third year teacher

P.S. No really, I promise, you’ll survive.

P.P.S. If you’re reading this and it’s after 11:00 at night, GO TO BED FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. YOU HAVE WORK IN THE MORNING AND IT’S GOING TO BE EASIER IF YOU GET SOME REST.