Y’all. We’re on the downhill slope–the negative slope, if you will. (Slope dude anyone? Niiiiiiiiiice negative.) We have made it to the fourth nine weeks and I can hardly believe it. But then again, I look at the bags under my eyes and feel the exhaustion in my bones and I definitely believe it. Whew. I’ve almost survived my first year in the classroom.
I’ll be honest and say that this year has been an emotional roller coaster–somewhat resembling the graph of a polynomial function. (Apologies for the bad math jokes. Can’t stop. Won’t stop.) And now that we’re almost to the end, I’m determined to finish this year well.
Even if you’ve been teaching a long time, chances are you’re feeling pretty worn out too. The end of the year seems to be tough on everyone. Testing (Oh Lord, the testing.) Sickness. Students going cray cray. And just plain ‘ole weariness. It’s tempting to just put on the cruise control and ride it out. Heck, I’ve already been doing this myself! BUT–the more I think about it, the more I don’t want that to be my end of year plan. I can do better, and my students NEED better.
So here’s the new end of year plan…
I’m going to plan the best I can. Smile the best I can. Love the best I can. Challenge the best I can. And put on my dang positive pants the best I can.
New teacher, let me tell you something. This job is hard. It really is. So when you feel the weight of it all, which you most certainly will, don’t feel alone. Don’t feel ill-equipped. Don’t feel weak. Don’t start reevaluating all of your plans. Here me say that teaching is tough. There’s so much to learn. It is completely, perfectly normal to feel all that you feel.
You know what else? It DOES get better. You’ll be amazed at how much you grow in just one semester. Second semester, you know things. Not allllll the things, but you’ve got some skills. Be proud of them.
And you’ll never believe this. It’s so great. Like, unexpectedly wonderful. Those students you had first semester? Even the ones you *might* have wanted to strangle and didn’t, thankfully. They’ll come back and see you. They’ll smile. They’ll high five you. They’ll tell you that they miss you. And right then and there, you will melt into a puddle on the classroom carpet. And you will hang onto those moments. Tuck them into your back pocket. Because you never know when you might need to remember why you decided to become a teacher in the first place.
New teacher, you are doing a good thing. You may not be the most amazing teacher in the whole world, or even in your school… but you are doing a good thing. You are making a difference in students’ lives. You are investing in the future. You are caring for young people in some of their most formative years. You. are. so. needed.
So when your head hits the pillow at night, and your body, mind, and soul are so so tired. And when the alarm clock goes off at that ungodly hour and you wonder why you ever agreed to get up this early. And when your students act like they’ve lost all their sense and make you so mad that you think you actually could spit fire.
People have said, “You haven’t been doing this long enough to be tired”.
BUT I AM. I’m so tired.
All the newness has worn off. My energy has dwindled. And now, we’re here, deep in the trenches of the mid-semester doldrums and I am just. so. tired.
Teaching hormonal high schoolers is no joke, y’all. (Well, there is plenty of laughing involved. Lots, actually. Kids are funny! It’s just not easy. It’s not easy at all.)
So yeah. I’m tired. I’m not feeling quite as excited and energized as I did at the beginning.
But still–I’m happy to be a teacher.
Sure. I don’t always feel happy. But still I know I’m in the right place.
I’m happy to be a teacher because it’s wonderful to be a part of something. It’s a privilege to be a part of my students’ lives. And because I want to make a difference.
So even though I’m tired, I’m rallying (and drinking more coffee than I care to admit). God has placed me here. For such a time as this. I don’t want to waste it.
I may not be the best teacher my students have ever had. In fact, right now I’m SURE I’m not. I lose energy midweek. I get frustrated when they ask the same question for the millionth time. I get SO tired of asking them to be quiet. And my lessons definitely need some work. (hello, last minute Kuta worksheets). But I’m dang sure going to keep trying. I want to be a good teacher. Really bad. And I care about my students. I really do.
So for now, I’m calling that a win.
To all the new (and veteran!) teachers out there who have no idea what they’re doing but keep trying anyway, solidarity.
Sometimes I wonder why I chose a job that is literally never EVER finished. I mean, sure. We get summers off and I technically could leave at 3:30 every day, but in reality? A teacher’s job is never done. Always thinking. Always planning. Always grading. Always trying.
Why didn’t I choose one of those jobs that I could really leave at work? Something that wouldn’t take over my life?
Sometimes I wonder why I chose a job that requires me to get up soooooo early. 5 a.m. wakeup calls are the absolute worst. Every stinking morning. I’ve never been a morning person and it’s not looking like that’s changing any time soon.
Why can’t schools start at 9? 9:00 is a much more civilized hour.
Sometimes I wonder what it will be like when we have children. Can I do this job well and still be a good mom? How on earth will I manage it all?
How can I possibly find the energy to do both?
Sometimes I wonder what my students will remember about me. That crazy math teacher who danced around and told stupid jokes.
Will they remember my smile? The way I laughed at the hilarious things they said? The way I believed in them? Those bad days when I yelled at them because they just.wouldn’t.shut.up?
Teaching is tough, y’all. But it’s wonderful all at the same time. I chose this job because I wanted to make a difference–and making a difference is almost never easy. But it is almost always worth it.
People! I have a job. And a classroom. And students who will be my responsibility this year. (What??!!) My world is about to look completely different in just a few short weeks.
It almost doesn’t feel real. I’m pinching myself on the regular.
But I’m excited. And I’ve been thinking A LOT about this upcoming year, and wanted to share some things that are on my heart and on my mind.
More than anything, I want my students to know that I care about them.
I want to care less about making a name for myself, and more about making a future for my students.
I want to steer clear of the Negative Nancys. Negative attitudes are super contagious, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
I want to take time to reflect. I’m not sure if I’ll do this weekly or biweekly, but I know that I will need to take time to think about how things are going and how I could improve. I don’t want to get so busy that I forget to think.
I don’t want to take myself too seriously. Yes, I’ll probably make a fool of myself from time to time. But I’ll live.
I want to stay true to myself. I’ve heard it said that, “teachers are pleasers”, and I’m definitely a pleaser. BUT — I don’t want to be afraid to gently rock the boat and stick to what I believe in.
I want to work hard and stay organized. Pretty vague, I know. But I’m hoping these things will take more shape as I get started.
I don’t want to be afraid to ask for help. I want to model for my students that asking question is a sign of strength, not weakness.
I want to remember to give myself grace. I’ve got big dreams and plans, but I’m not naive enough to think that this year isn’t going to be really hard at times. I want to remember that I’m new and I’m learning, and I’m going to make mistakes.
And I want to have fun. Life is way too short to not smile, laugh, and get a little crazy sometimes.