youre not the only oneThis is directed toward you, First Year Teacher.  I know you’re nervous.  Have you had the dreams yet?  You know, those back-to-school nightmares where you show up with no lesson plans or you get lost in your own school or you realize your wedding photographer posted your engagement video online and now all of your students have seen you kissing? (Oh, if only all of those were just dreams…)

But this entry is to let you know that no matter how bad it gets, no matter how embarrassed or frazzled or nervous you feel – you are not alone.

After all, you’re not the only one to…

  1.  …write out and practice rehearsing a phone call to a parent
  2. …try and make your voice sound “older” for a phone call to a parent
  3. …just forget about the phone call to the parent and send an email instead
  4. …cringe when you play the Paleolithic Era video you found on the shared drive because you’re afraid the loin cloth isn’t going to cover enough
  5. …plan an all-star lesson and then find out the ______ (insert: copier, Smartboard, computers, network, printer, electricity in general) is not working and have to change plans
  6. …cry in front of students
  7. …snort while laughing in front of students
  8. …wonder if you’re taking someone’s seat in the workroom during lunch
  9. …”take” a test you made frantically the night before, only to realize that none of the questions make sense
  10. …have a colleague mistake you for a middle school student and demand a hall pass
  11. …create a jam in the copier when no one is around and wonder if you should leave and pretend it wasn’t you
  12. …lock yourself out of your classroom
  13. …misspell the word “Poetry” on a giant poster you created for your classroom and not realize it until students bring it to your attention weeks later
  14. …feel confident enough in the unit you’re introducing to decide to “wing” the next day’s lesson
  15. …curse the You-of-Yesterday for deciding to “wing” a lesson
  16. …completely change your procedures halfway through the year (or a week into the year)
  17. …answer a student’s question with “I don’t know”
  18. …fake confidence when answering a student’s question
  19. …make the mistake of assigning “dic” as a root word for high school students
  20. …send a misbehaving student in the hall and have them wait there to “think about what they’ve done” so in reality you can think about what to say
  21. …scream during a lesson because you saw a spider
  22. …rehash a class period you feel went awful all during lunch…and during the drive home…and at night….only to come in the next day to realize that everything is fine
  23. …pretend you know what an acronym stands for (And these don’t count the specific state ones…)
  24. …fill out evaluation questions with answers like “Because I am Awesome” and “I’m Fantastic” without realizing the answers will be turned in to your administrator for evidence
  25. …have a student start crying in front of you
  26. …have a student start crying because of you
  27. …completely forget about a meeting
  28. …not even finish explaining an idea that seemed so good during summer, but turned out to be way too complicated
  29. …wonder if you’re really cut out for this
  30. …save thank-you notes from students as proof that at the end of the day, you’re doing okay
Being told I could “turn babies into flawless essay making machines” is quite possibly my greatest compliment!

I could go on and on with a list of mistakes I have made, lessons I have learned, and moments I have messed up.  And I’d be willing to bet that those of you reading either have your own lists or will be in the process of creating your own list this year.  And that is okay.  Mistakes happen.  Bad, frustrating, nothing-go-right days happen.  And when they do laugh, breathe and let them go.  And when a student thanks you feel the pride you deserve to feel, because with everything teachers have to get through, helping a student is no small feat.  And at the end of the day it is those “thank yous” (not test scores or evaluations) that are the real indicators that you are doing a great job.