Dear First-Year Teacher
Bowman (@bowmanimal) started this and Tina (@crstn85) is compiling the posts here.
Dear First-Year Teacher,
If you haven't already, there are at least ten wonderful letters waiting here for you. Please read those first.
This letter is more about me than you. I don't know you. I just know you are starting a new career in teaching. That alone makes me doubt you.
I doubt if your heart is big enough. Your heart has to replace your skin as the largest organ you have. It will hurt — so much that you can't breathe — because you work so hard at teaching yet someone doubts you. Your heart will break into little pieces and you try to put them back together with pints of Häagen-Dazs and tequila shots. (In moderation, they do wonders.) Your heart will do this stupid thumping when your phone message light flashes red or when the principal is outside your room wanting to discuss that asshole comment.
I doubt if your patience is long enough. I know some teachers encourage kids to ask questions in class by saying, "There are no dumb or stupid questions." I'd like to transfer to their school or import their kids into my classroom. So you will need a lot of patience for these types of questions. They don't come up often. Although sometimes a delightful thing happens — the class will have a brilliant answer for this dumb question. And you don't have to do anything but smile. You need patience to talk with the parent who believes her child before she believes you. You need more patience (and compassion?) when you learn a parent has lied to you.
I doubt if you're strong enough. You will not get to pee because your bladder says so. Never mind breakfasts. You will forget to eat lunch because kids are always in your room needing your help. You only realize you haven't eaten anything all day when you find your food in the microwave and it's now cold again. You will need to get by with 5 or 6 hours of sleep. You will develop a disdain for people who have time to watch prime time television. You stare at the perfect manicure on another woman and you hide your own hands because you see the paper cuts, hangnails, and dry erase marks that didn't wash off. You wish you could afford regular manicures and a trip to the Seychelles islands next summer.
This month wrapped up my 22 years of teaching.
My heart grew big over this span of time. It sings a good song now. The kids have so much patience with me. They are very kind to my mistakes. Sometimes they even applaud me after a lesson! I've laughed and cried in front of them.
That is all. I just want you to know that your heart needs to grow real big so it can hold this much joy.