“That’s it? The first year of teaching is over?” — me, finding it hard to believe how fast it all went by.
I knew that I wanted to write an “end of my first year of teaching” post but I’ve now sat down about 3 times trying to do it and I just have not been able to figure out how to start it and where I want it to go. So I’ve decided to break up my thoughts into stages: stressed the fuck out, so content with everything, not giving a fuck, caring SO MUCH.
#1: Stressed the fuck out
Okay, so it’s no surprise that the first year of teaching is incredibly stressful. It didn’t help that I added moving to a new country across the world to the mix. I had no furniture in my room, I didn’t know what I was doing and I felt so not confident in myself. I remember thinking at the beginning of the year that this isn’t what I should be doing, I wondered what my students would think of me — Would they like me? Would they hate me? That night before the first day of school I could barely sleep. I felt like I was writing a huge exam the next morning. Nope, I was going to be teaching for REAL for the first time instead! Haha. I winged a lot of stuff those first few months, but I remember by Christmas time, I felt like I finally had it all under control. I mean of course there were days later on in the year where I was totally stressed out (report cards, parent teacher, my kids were just annoying me, etc etc) but for the most part, this stage phased out.
#2: So content with everything
Thankfully, this stage was a big chunk of the year. This could be because we had so many holidays (bless!!!! would not have survived without them haha) but it also could be because I “figured it out.” I figured out how to run a literacy program in my class, I figured out how to use my prep time wisely, I figured out how to plan the hour before (LOL), I just kind of figured it out. This came so naturally, and I love that because it reminds me that this job is for me — and after seeing some teachers have it NOT be the job for them, I’m glad that my feelings and passion for this job were reinforced. I remember having some really awesome weeks where I was so motivated and pumped about what we were learning in class and how much the kids were engaged. And of course, there were weeks where I was counting down until the weekend because again, I was annoyed with all of them hahaha. BUT — for the most part, being content meant actually realizing I knew what I was doing! That is something that I was really proud of, especially when I was having doubts before that.
#3: Not giving a fuck
This stage is so real for I think every teacher. Even the BEST teacher in the world goes through the not giving a fuck stage. Especially when you care a lot, for a long time, it’s inevitable that you will get burned out. But not even burned out sometimes, sometimes it’s the students not producing what they need to or the students just not being engaged, or just one or two kids who are ruining your life — LOL seriously story of my life though. But as I recall, there were big chunks where I just didn’t care and let the kids do whatever they wanted. I’m sure they liked this stage haha! But after awhile of not caring, I got bored so of course that brings us to the next stage.
#4: Caring SO MUCH
There were many times where in the morning I would wake up SO motivated to do so many things — laminate, start a new inquiry, change up the classroom, etc. I loved this because I felt productive and felt like a really good teacher. Thinking of new activities, and being so enthusiastic with my kids was amazing — this is what we all strive to do all of the time, and what people expect, but the truth is that’s pretty impossible. As I said earlier, you get burned out whether you like it or not. But this has always been one of my favourite stages haha. This particularly happened to me during the last 3 weeks of school — I got SO motivated to do all of these fun, big projects with my kids and I really believed we would get through them all, but of course, as per usual, you run out of time, you end up doing something else, etc. That’s just what happens, and it’s a good lesson for me to learn going into my next year. But I’m glad that I got to experience this stage so much during the year.
As I write this, and as I chat to my best coworker/best friend, I realize that these can happen in all different orders, but it’s very cyclical. You care so much, but then you’re stressed, then you don’t give a fuck, and then you’re content with it all. Or, you’re content, stressed, care too much, don’t give a fuck. I don’t think it really matters what order these all happen in (or if you hit all of them, OR if you hit more stages!) but I think what’s important is to realize that this kind of cycle is normal — at least for new teachers, but I would argue for seasoned teachers as well.
I have luckily been surrounded by amazing people and educators this year. I have learned so much from so many different people (and also have gotten so many resources during end of the year clean out shout out to all my homies!!!) but I think I’ve also taught some people some things too! Of course there are things that I would change about the year, but I think that’s just the teacher in me hahaha. Always reflecting, always looking for ways to improve. I’m so excited for next year and have so many cool, awesome ideas that I wasn’t even thinking about at the beginning of last year, so it’ll be nice to have a BIT more of a clear head going into the beginning of the year, but also I need to remember that I’m still a new teacher even though I’ve done one year. But, like I said, I’m open to learning, reflecting and perfecting what I’m passionate about.
So here’s to finishing the first year of being a real, full time TEACHER!