So You Wish It Had Been Different: Three First-Year Struggles

New Teacher Survival Guide

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three-part series by Tch Laureate Emeritus Sarah Brown Wessling for new teachers wrapping up the school year.

“Every fear hides a wish.” — David Mamet

My first year of teaching was equal parts fear and wishing. In fact, they each pulled me from opposite directions, sometimes so tautly, everything seemed to bounce right off me, into the distance, uncatchable. That was my first year of teaching: lots of wishing for magical teaching moments and lots of hiding from my fears. I wished the kids would like me, but my fear meant I had some classroom management issues early on. I wished my colleagues would think I was doing a good job, but my fear meant I wouldn’t reach out to them with my own insecurities. I wished my lessons would all be inspired, but my fear meant that too often I would think about a “cool lesson” instead of a scope of learning.

My first year taught me that the rest of my years would be about shrinking the fictions of wishing and fear in order to opt for the beautiful and real mess of a teaching life. In case you’re finding yourself, at the end of this first year, needing a little less fiction and a little more beautiful mess, here are some common end-of-first-year struggles and how to use them to launch yourself into an even stronger year two. Read more

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What if I told you there’s a new teacher out there struggling who needs you — would you share your story?

I remember my first year like it was yesterday. I accepted an interview for a permanent position on September 30th. I thought this was strange timing, given the new school year had just begun; however, to me, it was also serendipitous.

There was no question in my mind that I would take the chance to sit for an interview and teach a lesson to what would become my first class of students.

I was so excited to learn I would have a real job, I hardly took the time to wonder why several teachers left this position in the short month since the school opened its doors, or what it meant when a series of administrators and faculty characterized the group of sweet, cooperative adolescents I met as “challenging.” In fact, it didn’t even phase me that, after announcing what my new salary would be, my then-superintendent asked, “So, do you still want the job?”

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What Do Teachers Really Do During The Holiday Break?

The excitement of the holiday season is in the air and winter break is just around the corner. Amid all the hustle and bustle, a few days can seem like an eternity. Distractions come easily; that is, if you’ve managed to find focus in your classroom at all. Desks are messy, school bags are bulging, and everyone is counting the days — maybe the hours — until the final school bell rings to signal sweet, sweet freedom.

Imagine how the students must feel!

We know you’ve been working hard for the past few months to create the best possible learning experiences for your students. You’ve earned this brief time away and we’ve been wondering how you plan to spend it. In true Tch fashion, we asked our outstanding community of educators to find out.

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#TchWellness: Declutter for Clarity and Focus

Getting Better Together

This entry is the sixth post in the series #TchWellness.

Every September, my desk and office space begin as blank canvases. As I purchase supplies and create materials, I place each item in an organized location. However, as the year progresses, I’m often overwhelmed by paperwork, post-it notes, books to read, projects to complete, and more. Somewhere in all of this, my desk becomes a space for my expansive educational collections and to-do lists rather than a clean, organized retreat where I can mentally focus and be creative.

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What Do Rising Educators Need to Know and Be Able to Do?

Editor’s Note: The questions throughout this post are from the Rising Educators in Jennifer Wolfe’s course. We invite you to click on the questions to respond to them directly.

As a 20-year veteran high school social studies teacher, I don’t get nervous anymore when the first day of school draws near — I get excited. I wonder who my students are, what they’ll talk about, how they’ll take to the content, what challenges and celebrations we’ll have this year, and of course, if they’ll like and respect me.

educator question 1I only just realized that I’m more excited in September these days than nervous, when I was hired to teach my first graduate-level education class, Foundations in Education 602, this past summer. I felt the butterflies in my stomach almost immediately after I was asked to send in copies of my degrees and was assigned a university faculty email address. Amazing, me, an adjunct professor. Awesome! Now what in the hell was I going to teach them? The university gave me some basic guidelines, but the course was mine to create. I could design a foundations course of my own.

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Break Away From Perfection

The Big Tent

As a new teacher, I’ve struggled in my classroom this last year. I’ve had lessons that don’t go as planned, students that I can’t seem to reach, and days where no matter how much I prepare, it doesn’t seem to be enough. I had this idea that I needed to be the “perfect” teacher. But let’s face it, there is not enough time to always be perfect, and perfect is boring.

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Three Strategies To Jumpstart Classroom Relationships

New Teacher Survival Guide

Quick. Imagine you’re on “Who Wants To Be a Teacher Millionaire” and the million dollar question is: “What do most teachers agree is most true about their work?”

What would you say? At the center of our teacher-hearts, what do we believe about our work? There are many good answers, but I think the answer I would offer, given all the teachers I’ve met in my career, is a belief in the power of relationships.

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New Teachers, Let’s Get Better Together! Join us for a Free Interactive Group

New Teacher Survival Guide

Your first year of teaching is overwhelming. There’s no real way around this. Everything is new! But with help and support, it can get a little easier. That’s where we come in.

I am so excited to debut the first run of our Teaching Channel Teams group, dedicated to helping new teachers develop positive class culture. Through this group, you’ll get to use the Teaching Channel Teams platform to collaborate with teachers across the country, explore resources, and learn new strategies. All in less than one hour a week!

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