Calling all first year teachers …

I write to you now, from the comfort of my bed … which I have not left since I got home around 5 hours ago.
I write to you now, after I spent the whole drive home in tears, and completely lost for  words which would articulate the sheer amount of overwhelmed which I feel halfway through a 3-week long staff induction.
I write to you now, as a first year teacher, having graduated in December (YAY), having yet to pass the PRAXIS (BOOO), and having no idea what’s going to happen on the first day of class (despite my first 2 weeks of lesson plans which I have already made).

My super intense emotional breakdown today was a huge wake-up call for me in regards to the reality of culture shock which takes place the first year in a new school. In this sense, I am not only writing to those teachers who just graduated, such as myself, but also those who are spending the first weeks learning new hallway procedures, new classroom requirements from administration, and even new content in some cases. We exist in this super-awkward limbo of space between too much advice and others’ predictions of failure, and those telling us that we are completely equipped by our own experiences and education. It’s so contradictory, and to be honest, I don’t feel like either apply to my current mental state. You see – I am so ready and prepped for the first day of class, down to the minute even, which we all know will go to hell as we practice our backpack procedure almost 100 times, but I still spent the drive home crying so filled with uncertainty. I know and have explicit lists of what my administration wants to see and will observe me for, hopefully the 2nd week of school before I forget everything, but I am so intimidated by these expectations that I feel paralyzed. Basically, I am freaking out right now, but that’s okay (or at least I keep telling myself that).

It is my internal conflict which led me to write and create this blog today. In the coming school year, and as my classroom fills with laughter, silliness, and probably a little bit of cussing, I want to make sure that I am experiencing my first year, that I am confronting my first year, and that I am owning my first year. By writing this down, I am making a commitment to myself that I will let myself: fail, cry, laugh, grow, challenge, and succeed alongside my students. I am and have always been my biggest critic and perfectionist, and so the perceived, potential, failure/mistakes which I will make this upcoming year, are already seriously stressing me out. I want to make sure that I give every student “multiple at bats” while using a variety of “C.F.U’s”, and ensuring that my “Do Now’s” and “Exit Tickets” are directly tied to the objective for that day (and definitely no longer than 5 minutes), but I am only human. I will mess up, probably a lot, and my student proficiency may not be at 80% for each unit before I move on, but I will never stop telling myself that I can do this. I am guaranteeing you right now that I will call my boyfriend crying at the end of the day when a student says something that hurts my feelings,  but I will come back the next day ready for the best day ever.

I have chosen to call this blog “Tactful Teaching” in the hope that my teaching career, far beyond this first year, will be full of difficult issues which I have handled with the utmost kindness, sensitivity, and tactfulness. Though I know the challenges which are ahead of me, I intend to use this space as an opportunity to document my emotions, my short-comings, and also my successes. If there’s anyone else out there, I welcome you to join me in my roller coaster, and to make sure you’re wearing a seat belt.

Buenas noches, duermas bien



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