For My Future Students

Last night I thought about all the things I hope to accomplish this year, my very first as a REAL teacher, and I found myself thinking about my hopeful accomplishments as promises, things I can promise my future students. I can’t promise them that I’ll be a perfect teacher. I can’t promise that I will always be patient, that I’ll always know what to say, that my lessons will always be engaging or high on Bloom’s Taxonomy (hey, I’m still figuring all this pedagogy out). But these are the things that I can promise them:

1. I will have high expectations. Because it’s how you will learn to know you are capable. It’s how you will know that I have faith in you and your intelligence and your abilities and your work ethic. Maybe you’ll flounder sometimes, but learning doesn’t happen if everything is easy. And if I make everything easy, if I set the bar so low that you never struggle, I’m doing you and your future self a huge disservice. And on your journey to meeting and/or exceeding those expectations, I will be your biggest cheerleader.

2. I will be tough. You’re not going to get away with anything with me. I’m not that kind of person, I’m not that kind of teacher. I will make clear to you from the get-go how I expect to be treated, how I expect you to treat others, and I won’t let you stray from those guidelines. I will be tough because I care about the kind of person you become and I want you to build your character so you can be the kind of person you are proud of being.

3. But I will also be quick to smile and laugh. I will bring joy to our classroom, I will welcome you every morning with warmth because I want you to experience school as a happy place, as a place where joy and wonder and laughter are encouraged. 

4. I will value you and your context. You are more than the sum of your parts; but you are also inextricable from your family, your culture, your community, your religion, the way you are raised. I want to be valued for the way those things have shaped me, so I will do the same for you.

5. I will learn right alongside you. Before I am a teacher, I am a learner. And on our first day together, I will tell you this so that you know learning never ends. I will never be the best teacher, or know all of the best practices, but I can always be improving, always trying new things and if they don’t work, trying others. I will lead by example because I want you to step into this world knowing you have something to offer, and you always have something to learn.

I can’t wait to have students in my classroom and in my life!

New Beginnings

I’ve always loved the beginning of a new school year. New pencils, new notebooks, the feeling of a fresh start. I’ve been living this new beginning every September for 18 years, but this year’s a little bit different–I’m starting it as a teacher.

June feels like ages ago, but it’s only been a couple of months since I was hired. The several weeks leading up to that were intensely stressful as any job search is. But I got really lucky and get to work in a school with a diverse student population with a friend from my very own cohort and with a principal I think will both challenge and support me. But now that the stress of finding a job has ended, the stress of doing the job has begun…

Last week I got to see my classroom and I’m so pumped. It’s kinda perfect. There’s two whiteboards on opposite sides of the room, so one can be for lessons while the other can be for students’ use. I imagine lots of sharing of ideas, students teaching students or even just creative expression in rare down time. I’ve decided to limit myself to things I put on the walls, because I want the walls to be covered in student work. I am enamored with the idea of having pictures of diverse peoples and heroes though, so scouring the internet for some I can afford on a budget.

I signed up for redditgifts for the Teachers, where teachers are matched up with a reddit user who donates a “care package” to your classroom. I’m not asking for anything fancy, mostly a class set of scissors and lots of markers for chart paper, things that aren’t expensive to begin with but add up. At this point, I got nothin’ so every bit helps.

More than filling my classroom with supplies and making it feel comfortable is the weight of… well, teaching. I keep telling people, “I’m new, so I don’t really know anything!” Which isn’t true. I do know lots of things about content and pedagogy. But there’s lots I don’t know and while I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt that I’ll learn and figure it out, I’m terrified I’ll be outed as a fraud. How can anyone entrust me with the lives of 20-25 children? I can barely keep track of where I parked my car!

But I’ve decided this fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It doesn’t make me lack confidence, oddly enough. It means that I care, that I want to do a good job. I have confidence in my passion for learning and hopefully, for right now, that’ll propel me enough to figure it out as I go and learn from the pros that surround me.

I’m excited for this new beginning. I’ve never gotten to experience the beginning of a career (unless you count my career as a barista, which I’d rather not), so I want to take a moment and bask in the new-ness of it. But I intend to never take for granted the feeling of September approaching so I can enter the classroom as ready for a new year as my students.