This year was my first year as an educator, my first year doing what I have dreamt of doing since I was a young girl. With my first year approaching its end, I was asked to write a post about how my first year as an educator went from start to finish. I feel it is only right I start with what drew me to education in the first place.
As a child you are constantly asked “What do you want to be when you grow?” As far as I can remember, my answer has always been a teacher. Most children do not put much thought behind their answer, but I always had several reasons why I thought education was the career for me. For starters, both my parents were educators and coaches, which I think first put the thought of teaching for a living on my radar. To see both my parents respected and loved by the community made me want such prestige in a career. I remember witnessing my parent’s students grow up right in front of our eyes. They would stop by years later after school to visit my parents, chatting about the positive impact my parents had on their lives. I desired to impact young people in that very same way. Then there’s all the breaks, I thought it would be pretty nice to have the summers off, and every other holiday for that matter. As I grew older that turned into an even greater plus as I began considering having children of my own. I have always been very family oriented and teaching seemed to just fit.
I began applying to several schools where I received several callbacks and interviews. I was extremely excited, but also nervous, as the calls were rolling in. Since I had never taught before or interviewed for teaching positions, I started researching possible questions that might be asked. Interviews were coming and going and I wasn’t receiving any callbacks. I concluded it was either I did not interview well or I looked so young, which was a topic at every Interview. Maybe they thought I wouldn’t have classroom management. Whatever the case maybe, I eventually received a job offer to teach 6th grade Social Studies. My dreams were coming true and I was all too ready to prove I could be a great educator.
At the beginning of the year, during pre-planning, I was very nervous but optimistic about the upcoming school year. However, meeting and talking to several teachers gave me mixed emotions of how teaching would actually be for me. Yet most fellow teachers were very reassuring, some weren’t so much. I got the feeling they assumed I would not be able to handle middle school aged children. Once again, I believe it was because of my appearance and demeanor. Some bashed teaching so bad I began to wonder if I was going to enjoy it. I was introduced to my room and immediately felt overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to start. Students would be here in a week. At open house, I tried my hardest not to appear as if this was my first time doing this. As the room filled up with eager parents and hesitant upcoming students, I introduced myself. Some struggled to find the teacher in the room, and I was constantly reminded I looked like one of the kids. Through it all, I had hoped I made a good first impression.
As school started I was asked to be involved in several different in-school activities which I politely declined. I was told to never take on too much as a first-year teacher. I was overcome with the extra paperwork and tasks that were asked of me because I had never done them before. I reached out to the administration, but they were all busy with their own tasks. No one really sat down to show me how these things were supposed to be done. I was just given a quick review and a due date. As the school year went on things started getting more familiar, and I started feeling more comfortable as an educator. I had stressed rules and procedures at the beginning of the school year, another tip I was given, so class for the most part was smooth. I was growing more confident and aware of my abilities to teach and to teach well. My test scores were not bad and my relationship with my students were developing. I was learning them and they were learning me. Most importantly, my relationship with my team had grown to be supportive.
Now that it is the end of school, I recognize that teaching is not what I expected it to be to say the least. There is a lot of paperwork that does not directly involve lessons or lesson planning, and as an educator, your workday does not end at dismissal. In my opinion, effective educators spend a lot of their personal time working, which their mediocre salary does not compensate. Many times teachers hear more complaints and insults, rather than compliments and gratitude. The lack of administrative support coupled with large classroom sizes make it harder to reach the children who are there to learn. One thing that I have enjoyed however is the children. I love planning lessons that my students enjoy. I love seeing them finally get a concept that they had been struggling with. I love teaching, just hate the negatives that come with it. I have learned through my first year of teaching that I do want to continue to work with children in some way; however, teaching is not the career in which I would like to remain.
Even though I faced many obstacles throughout my first year and realized teaching was not my calling, overall it was a good experience. I credit my success as a first year educator to my team who guided me throughout the year. At the beginning of the school year, I was shocked at how much time I was working outside the regular workday, and was quite overwhelmed. However as the year went on I became more time efficient and comfortable in completing those task. My team guided me and helped me with things that could have been detrimental to a first year teacher, such as taking on too much responsibility or not stressing rules and procedures at the very beginning. Teaching is a very taxing profession, but having good educators surrounding you takes away some of that stress.