You finally got that call! “I would love to offer you a position at ABC Elementary!” You are ecstatic and super ready to get started. You’re nervous, anxious, and a whole bunch of other feelings you can’t put into words. Despite your fears, you dive in to your first year of teaching. But what happens when it’s not what you expected? What happens when your first year is a terrible, horrible, no good, very. bad. year?
I remember it like it was yesterday. My little cousin and I were leaving for the airport. We were headed to Connecticut to visit our uncle. Right before we picked up our things to head out of the door, the phone rang. It was the phone call I had been praying all summer that I would receive. The principal I had interviewed with just one day before called to hire me. I all but sobbed on the phone. Lol. You see, it was approximately 2 weeks before school was to begin and I had spent all summer trying to find a job. I was so thankful, grateful, and HAPPY! Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last long.
Fast forward to the week teachers started. I was completely overwhelmed. Now don’t get me wrong. I was still excited, however:
- I student taught in a second grade class and I was hired for 4th (I had a LOT to learn)
- This school had a particular way in which they wanted you to decorate your room (in regards to brain based practices. I was a first year teacher aka I was broke. Lol. I was completely stressed about how I was going get all the things I was supposed to have.)
- I had missed all of the vital trainings and district orientations that were offered throughout the summer since I was hired 2 weeks before school.
- This was my first real job. Helloooo! Wouldn’t you be stressed too? I was officially about to begin.... ahem. ADULTING. 😱 Lol.
Even with all that on my plate, I made it to the start of school. Only two days in, I had my first disappointing experience. A parent moved her child out of my classroom. Why? “He didn’t know division.” Apparently this mom didn’t think I knew what I was doing despite the fact that I gave out the same homework that ALL the other 4th grade teachers gave. Did I cry? Yep. Why? I was upset that she didn’t give me and chance and again, it was the same homework everyone else gave! From then it continued to spiral. One thing after another. It seemed that no matter what I did, I could not please my principal. In meeting after meeting. Session after session. Nothing I did was right in her eyes. This lesson was too long. This lesson was too short. This lesson I used the wrong term. This lesson I didn’t seem prepared for.
I reached out to teammates for ideas and suggestions. I was spent countless hours grading papers, studying the state standards, and to top it all off, there was one particular parent who was convinced her child loved school until he came to my classroom (this child smiled DAILY in my classroom...). I was stressed out. Crying daily. Defeated. And confused. Then came one of the most hurtful things ever. I was told to “consider other career choices.” I couldn’t understand why something I had dreamed of for so long, something I knew I was meant to do, was turning out to be such a nightmare. Why was this so hard? Because it had to be.... for me.
Now looking back, if I’m completely honest, I didn’t get it at first. I had no idea all the extra work that went into teaching. And I believe it took me so long to “get it” because with all the suggestions I was given from colleagues, I was trying to teach like everyone else but ME. While I believe I was treated unfairly, I absolutely accept responsibility for what I COULD control. While my first year was awful, I learned so much from that experience.
Needless to say I did not return to that school after my first year. I moved to an entirely different district where everything I did was right for a change! (But that’s a story for another time). While year one was horrible for me, and I did heavily consider not teaching anymore, I refused to let go of my dream. I knew in my heart that I wanted to teach. It absolutely crushed me, but I chose to believe what God had to say about me.
My first year made me a better teacher and a stronger person in general. I learned to have confidence in myself, and be advocate for myself. I also learned that I can’t be anyone but me. Trying to teach like others is NOT the way to go. Lol.
I am now entering my 9th year in education and I can actually say I am grateful for my first year of teaching experience. Not only would I not be the teacher I am today, but I wouldn’t be able to share my testimony with others. Also, since then, I have had the opportunity sit down with that principal and share with her my success. 😊
So, if you are a teacher that just finished your first year and it was similar to mine, KEEP GOING. If you are about to begin your career, BE YOU AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP. If you are a teacher facing adversity at your current school, PUSH THROUGH. Finally, if you are a teacher that had the same experience as myself your first year but you chose to push through and continue teaching, share your testimony. You never know who it could help. ❤️ Until next time ✌🏾
P. S. - The year wasn’t all bad. My husband (then boyfriend of course) proposed that year. ❤️