Updated: Jun 18
Retiring from the United States Coast Guard (USCG) after 13 years was a major life change to say the least. The pandemic hit and my fanstasy of being a stay at home mom with free time for myself while my girls were at school erupted into flames and the left over debris was virtual learning. My husband still active duty USCG received orders to transfer to a boat in Miami, I will admit I was lost when we transferred about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The question ran through my head on a constant loop like a record player; what career did I really want?
After trying on a couple of jobs that fit like bad cocktail dress or a shoe to tight, I stumbled upon what I wanted to make my career, teaching. One of the jobs I held that was a good fit at the time but went out of style was working at an all inclusive dance studio for children with special needs. I discovered I loved being around kids. I wanted, I needed to do more then answer phones, collect monies, and check students in to their dance classes. The decision was made I was going to apply to be a substitute teacher, the day after I submitted my application I received a call for an interview at my girls school to be a teachers aide for special needs children, not a subsititute. The next day I received another call from a middle school sto teach 6th grade English Language arts. The universe was raining down opportunities and I was going to open those doors.
However, getting into the teaching profession is not for the faint of heart. Naviely I thought I was in the USCG, I saved lives, I planned missions, teaching English my first love, my passion to 11, 12 and 13 year olds should be easy right? Right?
I was very very wrong and new teachers have the burn out before the burn out. I respect experienced teachers, my fellow teachers and anyone who has been in the profession for a long time. As a new teacher though we are navigating new systems, figuruing out our displine style, how to interact with adminstration, and planning meaningful lessons. Some of the questions I came across were what is the best time to plan, to grade, and do I have to grade every assignment I give out? What happens and how do you respond when the kids do not follow your directions? What is the displine matrix with all the codes and letters? Do I give out the consequence of a, b, ww or x y and z? How do you deal with overbearing parents? How do you deal with parents who just don't care?
How do you handle when you what is best for your students, but adminstration or your department is expecting something different? I could on and on and make this blog just about the questions, but the point is there is burn out before the burn out. During my first year of teaching I felt like I was walking a tight rope of perfectionism, pleasing the parents , students, adminstration and collegues all at once.
Whether you are a first year teacher or a veteran teacher I know we have all felt that feeling of having to please everyone. Teacher rention is at an all time low right now, according to Nick Morrison in the article "Stopping the Great Teacher Resignation Will Be Educations big Challenge for 2022," working conditions and more pay will not keep teachers in the classroom. According to Morrison one and three teachers have left the profession after the panedmic. While teachers are leaving the profession the districts and teacher unions are doing everything they can to attract new teachers to the field. Some of the incentives for new teachers are offering enhanced training, bonus, extra pay for covering classesand other perks. Will these incentives be enough to keep newly hired teachers in the classroom? This year alone I witnessed two teachers not come back from winter break, and with teachers and principals on social media platforms highlighting the good, the bad and ugly of the profession awareness has skyrocketed that there needs to be drastic change to education system.
While my first year teaching was rough to say the least, I do have to say I love teaching! I love seeing the students faces light up when they understand the lesson I so diligently planned. I love hearing about their days and their dramas. There were many days while I was teaching that I wanted to walk out and just quit, I fel tlike I was falling off that tight rope. However, my hope in teaching has been restored, a big hug from a student, an inside joke between co-workers (velociraptors) and just being around my students is enough to keep me on that tight rope.
In the meantime I am going to relax this summer, take some professional development courses, spend some much needed time with my family and look forward to the 2022-2023 school year. I am going to reflect on what went well this first year of teaching. I am going to reflect on what I can improve on and implement for next year. Teachers are always growing, always changing and adapting to the needs of their students, because the students are what matters the most.
To my veteran teachers out there who stuck or maybe even clung on to that tight rope you are turly an inspiration. Please keep on that tight rope a little longer, for us newbies. New teachers still need you, and you are appreciated (even if you do not hear it) thank you. Thank you for being there and thank you for your guidance.