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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The 1 Thing I Would Tell My First Year Teacher Self

If you could go back to your first year of teaching, what would you do differently?

To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't change much. I'm not saying I did everything perfectly in my first year of teaching- far from it, believe me!- but I can confidently say I did the best I could expect myself to do as a first-year teacher. I certainly worked really long hours, but I don't regret the extra time I spent on my teaching, and I didn't completely abandon other aspects of my life or work myself to death either. Still, if I had the chance, there is one thing I would tell my first year teacher self.

You are doing enough.

Actually I wish I could tell current teacher self this too (and really believe it). If there was one thing I wasted more anxiety on than I should have in my first year of teaching (and still do, to a lesser extent), it was the worry that I wasn't doing enough: enough meeting kids where they are, enough holding kids to high standards, enough time teaching composition, enough time singing, enough time sticking to the plan, enough time scrapping the plan, enough sleeping, enough working, enough grace, enough strictness...

Let me put the same thought another way:

The best you can do is the best you can do.

If you're doing the best you can- reflecting on your practice, seeking advice and resources, working hard, and taking care of yourself- then you are enough. You can't expect yourself to be more than that, or to do more than that. Sometimes, especially as a first year teacher, it means teaching straight out of whatever textbook series you have access to (yep, did that). Maybe it means some days you have to apologize over and over again because you're so tired you can't help but have a shorter fuse (absolutely had those days). Maybe you totally screw something up because you just didn't know (definitely did that!).

The best you can do is the best you can do, and your best is more than enough.

Hang in there, first year self, and try not to worry if your best is good enough. Try not to stress out thinking you're not worthy of being in the position you're in. And same to you, veteran teacher! I get it, we worry about these things because we care so much. Enough. Use that emotional energy to be present for your students, your family and friends, and yourself.

You are enough.

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  1. This is wonderful and perfect advice for any stage of teaching/life!