*cue Adele music*
Hello, it’s me!
I was wondering after this long year if you’d still like to hear
To go over everything.
They say your first year teaching is tough
But I have so much more to share
HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIDE PEOPLE!! And when I mean the other side, I mean not being a first year teacher anymore… and that it is summer! (Ahhhhhhhhh!!! Crazy how fast this year went!!!!). Man oh man, this year has been a such a great learning year! For this blog post, I wanted to write down what I learned along the way to share with you all…especially you upcoming first year teachers.
Seriously, I do not know how to even start this list. In thinking of this blog post, I asked myself: Do I order everything chronologically how I learned it??? Do I order it by importance??? Do I order it alphabetically??? And the winner is…. NONE OF THEM. I have decided just to list them in a RANDOM order lol. Here we go!!
- Balance is key--You can overwhelm yourself with school. I promise you. There is always something that you can do for your classroom, for your students, and for you to better your teaching, but you have to be able to stop. For the first two months, I would stay at school until 5pm everyday, come home and work for 2 more hours, and then spend 10+ hours on the weekend at school. I seriously felt like all I did was school and I needed an extra weekend from my weekend. I couldn’t wait to have a long weekend, just to have that extra day to relax. After having some crying breakdowns at home, Joel suggested a new plan “Dedicate one day to work and one day to rest”. On the weekends, I would spend one day (usually Saturday) going into school and then another day (usually Sunday) for myself! This new plan was awesome! I also started stopping looking at school related material at 5pm and took time to self-care or how I liked to call it “Self-Claire”. This advice can really apply to anyone–not just teachers. Know when enough is enough, or have a friend or family member be able to tell you this. School is a big part of my life, but it is not my entire life! Make sure you are balancing your time.
- You’ll find your grove–Everyone told me that the first couple of months will be tough and I would be lying to you if I said they were not. Many teachers, friends, and family members told me that once Thanksgiving hit, I would feel like I had a handle on things. They were right!! I remember saying to Joel on a Saturday in January “Hey, remember when I would spend my entire weekend at school?”. We both laughed and wondered what happened. I didn’t stop extensively planning. The school days weren’t getting shorter. I didn’t stop doing fun activities in the classroom. Actually, I added more to my plate by working at Loft and helping coach Girls on the Run. I guess I just found my grove 🤗 AND YOU WILL TOO! Just hang in there! I’ll be the one to tell you next year that you’ve got this.
- You must fill your own cup before filling others’ cups–This kind of deals with my first point, but I want to reemphasize it because it’s so important. As teachers, we put so much energy into our classrooms. It takes energy to plan lessons, carry out the lessons, and to care for your students. You won’t be able to do this if you are not caring for yourself! Add some self-care to your routine… or Self-Claire (lol I can give you a pep talk!) Read for fun before going to bed, put on a face mask, workout, bake, do arts & crafts…ANYTHING that’s going to make YOU feel good so you can give your best energy & vibes to your students!
- Live at home (if you can)–If you are given the option to live at home your first year, DO IT!! I am lucky enough that my home is actually 1 mile away from my school. Living at home this past year has been wonderful. Not having to worry about living independently and just being able to worry on my classroom has been great! I have the best roomie too… PAT DONAHUE ROCKS!! Living at home will give you a great support system. I could not tell you the amount of good talks I’ve had with my dad since I’ve been home. He is so helpful and has helped me have a great year 💕
- Don’t be afraid to change–If something does not go well in your classroom–a procedure, lesson, organization, attitude etc.–don’t be afraid to change! It’s your learning year! Try new things out to see what works best for you. However, also realize that what works best this year, might not work best the next year. Each school year brings a bunch of new students! Know from the very beginning that not everything is going to be perfect. Not everything in your day will run smoothly. However, find one good thing that went well and roll with it!
- Assume nothing, teach everything–One of my teammates mentioned that saying to me in the first month of school and honestly, I’m going to make a plaque for this for next year! It does not matter the age and personalities of your students, do not assume that they know everything. Remind them how to walk in the hallway, review math concepts before diving into a new lesson, teach them how to treat others with kindness and respect. As you are going into the first couple of weeks of school and implementing your classroom management, this is your time to make sure you are teaching (or reviewing…but still teaching) everything that your students need to succeed.
- Lean on your teammates, school staff, & administrators–Enough said. I could NOT have survived this year without my amazing fifth grade team, wonderful colleagues, and fantastic administrators. Everyone at my school was always eager to lend a helping hand and offer a listening ear (and sometimes a shoulder to cry on). Do not do this on your own!! You have amazing teachers all around you ready to support and encourage you in any way. Teacher tribe, thank you x 101348934908234039 for our morning launches, shared resources, little gifts, immediate visits when asked for help, and endless smiles and laughs.
- Remember why you started–When the going gets tough, when your challenging student is acting out, when you’re having a day where you just feel like crying, when you are overwhelmed with report cards, emails, planing…Remember why you wanted to be a teacher. Remember those students that you have in your classroom who look up to you and appreciate seeing your smiling face in the morning. Remind yourself of these things! I used a little journal throughout the year to reflect on my day and to write at least one positive thing that occurred that reminded me why I went into the teaching profession. I also have a physical and electronic file of notes, emails, pictures, and messages that I have received over the past year that put a smile on my face. Having these little reminders at reach will definitely help you on those difficult days 💕
There are so many great things I have learned this year and I’ll continue to highlight them as the summer goes on. I did not want this first post back to be a billion pages long. As for me this summer, you will definitely see me around. I hope to continue this blog post through the summer and school year highlighting all the many things that make me happy.
And to end this blog post, I will share a conversation I had with my dad last week (#PatDonahueROCKS!!!). “How lucky you are that you get to start fresh every year and strengthen your teaching as each year progresses. Not many professions are able to do that”. He is right! Not many professions are able to start anew with a bunch of eager, smiling new little faces. This is one of the many things I love about being a teacher. After my first year, I have already learned so many new practices, strategies, and activities I want to try to better myself. I’m looking forward to this summer as a time of relaxation, but also some reflection. YEAR ONE IS DONE! Let Year Two begin ☺️
Thank you for following along in my journey!! (And for being patient and caring through this first year). Happy Summer Teacher Friends and Friends of Teachers❤️