Mantras for First-Year Teachers, Explained by a Guy Who is Trying Not to Drown

I had no idea how much work would be required to stay afloat!

Nat Hrvatin
May 3 · 3 min read
Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

I have found my paradise!

Congrats, you found a teaching job after fifty applications, fifteen interviews, and fourteen rejections. Paradise, for me, is the name of the cruise ship I just fell off of.

“I am living my dream.”

Your dream is tricking partially-literate teens into caring about symbolism. My dream is making whale noises to signal for help while fooling nearby predators.

“I will be brave and fearless.”

Teenagers, like sharks, can smell fear. They know that you are new; therefore, you are easy chum. I reject the notion that I am easy chum; I use the power of suggestion to manifest an invisible barrier around me. And I know from watching only ten seconds of Jaws that sharks respect barriers.

“I recognize that each student possesses their own intelligence.”

No matter how many times students ignore simple instructions, take their lack of effort as a secret sign of genius! I ignored the sign telling me to wear a life jacket while standing on the deck. But now, look at me: I’m using my crocs as a flotation device. I’m a Tommy-Bahama-clad Thomas Edison!

“I will just keep swimming.”

You’re swimming in emails from parents and I’m swimming in the Atlantic. Both involve convincing yourself that you are totally capable of treading water. Why should I care about this pelican who is eyeing me from a craggy rock, and why should you care if parents caw at you in admonishing tones? Yes pelican, I am capable of treading water; I went to water-treading school!

“I am preparing my students for their future.”

You prepare students for tests that determine whether or not they are capable of succeeding in life. Me, if I had a standardized test right now, I could use it to intimidate the waves around me with my superior intellect. Then, they’d respect me enough to carry me back to my cruise ship. If only I had a thousand №2 pencils that I could fashion into a life raft.

“I am capable of doing hard things.”

You can grade hundreds of essays using your one planning period and countless hours outside of school. In fact, you do hard things so well, next year you’ll get to grade even more essays for a slightly higher amount of pay. Me, I’m capable of floating on my back after my arms give out.

“I know I cannot do it all on my own.”

Help, help! I’m drowning! I had no idea how much work would be required to stay afloat! I hope someone throws me a life preserver. In your case, your district can only afford to throw you a bag of Wint-O-Green LifeSavers. And of course a box of №2 pencils. For tests.

“I understand that failure is a necessary roadblock on the path to success.”

You reflect on lessons you could have made more engaging, or conflicts you could have resolved with more patience. And me? Well, the waves are reflecting the sun’s rays quite intensely, giving me a lobster-tinted hue. I swim into a nearby fisherman’s net, hoping he will mistake me for today’s catch and ensnare me. God, I wish this summer vacation would never end!

Jane Austen’s Wastebasket

Humor inspired by the literature, history, and other…

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