Be the change, being me, reflection

Some Small Confessions From an Almost Veteran Teacher

image from icanread

When I first started teaching, I couldn’t wait to be done with my first year.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my first year, but I couldn’t wait to have the experience under my belt.  To think that a whole year of knowledge and expertise would be part of my toolkit for planning great lessons.  A whole year of just having tried it and knowing that the second year at least I would have something to rely on other than college.  One more year closer to being a veteran.  You see, those veterans seemed like they had it all under control, like every lesson was well-planned and smooth.  Like their classroom management worked like a dream, like there was nothing that could faze them.  Yes, I couldn’t wait to be one of those people.

Now on my 6th year of teaching, I have a few things to confess.  I am by now close to being considered a veteran, I think, I don’t quite know when that happens.  And I am here to tell you, I still don’t know it all.

I am here to confess that there are days I have no idea of how to fix a lesson or reach a child.

There are days when a lesson blows up spectacularly in my face, even though it was well-planned and well-intentioned.

There are moments in which I want to cry because I am so frustrated with something that happened.  There are moments when I cannot wait for the lesson to come to an end because the students and I just need a break from it.

There are moments when I cannot think of the right thing to say or think of the perfect thing to do for a certain child that needs me.

There are days when I carry piles of work home with me, not knowing how I am going to get through it all.  In fact this year that has been almost every single day.

There are lessons where even with my experience I cannot seem to get the kids excited about what we are about to cover or learn.

There are days where my words and actions fail me and something I say or do gets completely misconstrued.

There are moments in which I raise my voice rather than explain something calmly.

There are moments where I know I can do better, know I can do more, know that there is a better way to do this.

And yet, being an almost veteran has helped me in one huge way; I know that these are just moments or days.  I know that they will pass and that the next moment or day will be so much better.  That there is an up whenever there is a down.  That there is a way to get better, even if just means admitting that I was not on my best that very day.

So all you new teachers, or even all you veterans, yes having experience makes teaching so much easier but don’t be fooled.  We all have those days, we all have those moments, even if we don’t show it, even if we don’t write about it.  So remember that the next moment will be better.  The next day will be better.  Even if you are the only one that believes it.


I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students Starting Today” will be released this fall from PLPress.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.


17 thoughts on “Some Small Confessions From an Almost Veteran Teacher”

  1. Wonderful reflections. There are moments that are so frustrating and moments that are exhilarating. It comes with the territory. Wouldn’t trade what I do for anything. Hopefully we learn from both.

  2. Perfect post. In my third year, I almost feel like I’m starting over again when teaching HS and ES for the first time. It is encouraging to read this and know that experience doesn’t prevent these things from happening, but allows us to deal with them better.

  3. As a veteran teacher of 25 years, I can attest to the fact that the moments you so aptly describe do not disappear! And I can agree that “experience” does provides strategies to deal with many of those moments however, even the most seasoned among us will have times where we wonder how that particular moment went awry or how the day just got away from us! It is essential to recognize that and also realize that sharing with someone who gets that is so important…at any stage of your career! Thanks for another thoughtful post!


  4. Thank you so much for your honesty. I am on my sixth year and I am feeling overwhelmed wondering how I will get everything done and regretting things that have not gone well this year. You have put things in perspective. It was very timely for this long weekend. There will always be another day to try again. Find the joy.m

  5. Great post! I am in my third year of college majoring in Elementary Education, and I found this post comforting to me. I am currently observing in some classrooms, and at times it seems like these teachers have it all together and don’t struggle with a thing. It makes me wonder how I will ever get to that point. It is great to know that even “veteran” teachers don’t always have it together.

  6. Very well said! I am in my 9th year teaching and I can echo almost all of the points made….especially with bringing more stacks of papers home than I ever had before. Why is that?
    However you’re right…these are just moments that pass. Replaced with moments of pure excitement, appreciation, and breakthroughs. Which makes the long nights of grading & planning almost worth it.

  7. This is my 20th year teaching and I find that no matter how much I have learned there is always room to investigate and uncover more… it makes me think of Daniel Pink’s book Drive, where he talks about Mastery as ever elusive, that we can continue to work at something and move towards ‘expert’ status things change just enough to keep us on the journey to learn more.

    That is how I continue to see teaching and learning… as a process that I engage in as the world around me evloves and grows… not to mention that each year I work with a dynamic new set of individuals who challenge me in ways I never thought possible… and I am grateful for this new learning I am building each and every day!

  8. I thought this post was very powerful, so I read it at a staff meeting. Thanks for making us all feel normal!

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