Just Look...

Just Look...

Monday, August 5, 2013

To My 22 Year Old Self on the Eve of your First Day as a Teacher:

***Number one, stop whatever you are doing and TAKE THE SIZE STICKER OFF YOUR NEW PANTS. Granted, it's a blessing it is the size of your 22 year old self and not your 35 year old, but still. It's going to be an embarrassing moment when the sweet tenth grade girl in your THIRD PERIOD CLASS whispers to you that it's still there.

Now.

Take a moment and breathe. It's times like these that one of your favorite quotations later in life would have really come in handy.

 "I am not afraid. I was born for this." ~Joan of Arc

Yes. I know that you are terrified beyond what should be the human limits of terror. I know that you aren't a public speaker and you never intended to teach and your teeth are itching and your stomach is rolling and your heart is exploding. But you know what? You were born for this. God called you straight into this profession and He would never put you in a place without also giving you the grace and strength to handle it. (This is certainly NOT the time to tell you that these feelings of fear remain, even 13 years in, although they become more bearable. The first day might continue to scare you for your entire career!) But honestly... you've got this. These are your people and this is your place and this is your stuff. Let the fear invigorate you and drive you, but don't let it overcome you.

Be willing to accept help. You are in the luckiest position on all the earth because the people you are teaching with are not only the best of the best, they are YOUR best. You get to work with and be mentored by so many of those who taught you and you are so stinking blessed. They are invaluable resources to you and no one expects you to have all the answers in the beginning. Ask them for help. Let them guide you.

Choose your company carefully. It might sound terrible to say aloud (in blog form), but schools (and let's be honest, MOST jobs) are really just life-size versions of "Survivor". There is an aspect of just "playing the game" and you might have to bite your tongue at times and be friendlier than you might feel and make alliances with people you wouldn't otherwise have chosen. That's part of being an adult. Stand up for yourself but be careful not to thoughtlessly step on others.

You know that old "Don't smile till Christmas" cliche? It's RIDICULOUS. Here's the thing about you (and probably all teachers, otherwise they would be making more money doing something else): You are a people person. You THRIVE on relationship. The only way you are going to be the teacher God called you to be and get the pleasure He intends for you to get from this job is to connect with your students. More importantly than taking pleasure in your work, you are here for them. There will be kids in your classes who need a gentle disciplinarian... provide that structure. There will be kids in your classes who need a friend... walk beside them. There will be kids who need the love of a mother.... be that mother, even though you aren't sure how that looks quite yet (and don't worry, eventually you will become a better teacher just by being a mother-- and vice-versa). There will be kids who need inspiration... open their eyes to the possibility. There will be some who need a kick in the pants... deliver that kick with care. There will be some who need food, clothing, money to pay a locksmith (took 13 years, but it happened)... hand those over. There will be some who need guidance and motivation and drive and a listening ear and a loving heart and a challenging mind... extend those things. You are all some of these kids have... the only person in their lives who can show them care and concern. It's on you. And there will be days and nights that it feels like an awfully heavy burden, one you didn't ask to bear. Stand strong for them, because it's so so so so worth it.

Keep learning! I know that you just finished your Master's and the thought of this makes you nauseous, but the best teachers are the best students. You don't have to get further formal education, but read and study and dig. Your students will benefit and you will enjoy your time so much more. Push yourself to new challenges and new levels.

Get involved. The absolute best way to gain ownership in a school is to serve it. Sponsor clubs, volunteer to teach elective classes, serve on committees... Don't sit around and talk about the things you WISH your school was-- get out there and do what you can to make it the school you want, the very best version of itself.

Have fun! YOU GET TO BE A RAIDER! It's all you've ever been and all you've ever wanted to be. Go to the games, get into the pep rallies, tap your foot along with the band, clap for the plays, decorate for the proms (CHECK.), buy the tshirts, sway with the choir, be dazzled by the art, have Cosmetology do your nails... Being a high school teacher has to be the most fun profession in life. Embrace it!

It's your day. You've had the best examples and you are going to bring some new things to the field too! So try to push the fears down tonight and get plenty of sleep because the ride of your life is about to start.

Buckle up, but don't forget to throw your hands up on the hills...

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely wonderful. I hope this post goes viral!!

    ReplyDelete