Alternately Titled: Time Flies When You’re Having Fun
I posted a little bit about this on my personal Facebook page yesterday, but since most of you aren’t “in real life” friends, I thought I’d share it here too…
Monday marked the start of my EIGHTH year of teaching. Y’all, I seriously can’t believe I’ve been doing this for so long. I will NEVER forget the first weeks of my first year of teaching. I was twenty-three, a newlywed, finishing my Master’s Degree, completely clueless about what I was doing, and a nervous wreck. I vividly remember the new-teacher orientation and work week, and my list of (literally) 1,000 things I needed to do and buy before school started. I probably spent $500.00 on supplies that year (I’m not even kidding, and I didn’t even have my own classroom) and more than 500 hours trying to create the perfect syllabus, lesson plans, etc. I wore a HIDEOUS khaki skirt and solid navy blouse on the first day because I wanted to “look like a professional,” and I had a mini nervous breakdown in the aisle of Staples with my two friends who were also starting their first year of teaching….
One of the things that stands out the most to me in my memories of that first year, is my disbelief at how many “veteran” teachers in my department had been doing this for 20, 30+ years. I honestly COULD.NOT.IMAGINE the energy and effort it would take to keep up this kind-of career for so long. I remember thinking, “I might be able to do this for three or four years, but I could never do it for my whole life…”
And now, just like that, I’ve been teaching for SEVEN years. It’s no lifetime; but, I do feel like it’s a pretty significant chunk… (During that time, I’ve earned my Masters, switched positions twice, become a mom, and turned thirty). But, the truth is, every year goes faster than the last. I seriously can see now EXACTLY how twenty years are gone before you even know what’s hit you. 🙂
It got easier. Not because I “reuse all my lessons” (That’s a total myth of veteran teachers, by the way. I have a basic idea of what I’m doing from year to year now, but I still re-write almost every single lesson and make some pretty significant changes to my curriculum every year.), but because I fell in love with it. I still spend a lot of energy and effort on the day-to-day stuff, but teaching itself comes naturally now. I’m confident in my role. I know why I teach. I know when to ask for help and where to look for resources. And, most importantly, I know that the real things that matter in my profession have very little to do with how high my test scores or evaluation is, and everything to do with investing myself in the lives of teenagers.
The last two days have been GREAT. It’s been fun to see familiar faces, catch up with old friends, and meet my new round of eager freshmen. I even had a student bring me a postcard from her visit to Verona, Italy this summer. 🙂
We wrote our six-word memoirs, drudged through the syllabus, and jumped right in to a discussion of the American Dream.
Year eight… Let’s do this!
How were your first days so far? What do you find gets easier about teaching every year?