It’s that time of year where many thoughts in North America turn toward our new year ahead. A year filled with so much possibility that we can hardly contain our energy. Or a year filled with so many obstacles that we are not sure where to even start. Now is the time for advice it seems, more posts will probably come forth with nuggets. But this post is not just for those that are new, it is for myself too. I am teaching a new grade (hello 7th grade!) in a new fabulous district (hello Oregon!) with amazing new people (hello team!). So this letter is a reminder to me…
Be fearless. I know you are having nightmares, the one where the kids wont quiet down and you end up standing on top of a table screaming at them just to take attendance. But that’s not how it’s going to be. It may feel that way at times, but you will never, ever have to stand on top of a table screaming at children. At least not for bad reasons. So let it go and realize that although the next year will be filled with scary, it will also be filled with new. A new chance for you to spread your passion for reading and writing. A new chance for you to build connections, to be a part of a team, to work for a common vision. How often do we get to say that we get to start over again and really mean it?
So have goals. Be brave. It is okay to present new ideas that you might not have thought out completely, but that you know in your stomach will probably work. It is okay to try something and then have it fail. It is okay to not have every answer. It is okay to show the students that you are nervous like them, that this is a new adventure for you too. It is okay to get excited about the latest picture book. It is okay to let your inner dork shine. And who are we kidding, I don’t think you could hide that nerdiness anyway.
Be true to you. You have a vision for how your classroom should feel so make it work, but not just for you, but for all of those kids who come to you with their curiosity, their fears, their dreams. They should feel safe in your room, much like you hope to feel safe with them. Don’t ever think your words don’t matter. They matter more than you will ever know, and you will never be able to reach them all but the trick is with teaching that you don’t know who you are reaching at what time. So don’t give up on any of them, keep trying for all of them. Even when you are sure they could not possibly push you any harder.
Don’t lose yourself in the job. Yes, teaching is this all consuming amazing experience that we can live and breathe. But you have children of your own that need you too. You have kids at home that need their days listened to, their curiosity protected, that need time with just you. Not you and your computer. So give yourself fully when you are at school, but then leave it behind when you drive home, open up to the children at home, they need you too.
Say yes to as much as you can. Say yes to that that scares you We only grow when we push ourselves. But don’t say yes so much that you cannot find the time to breathe. There may be more opportunities than ever coming your way and so many things you would like to do. But just don’t. Teaching is enough. Being a parent is enough. You have nothing to prove to the world, that is not your job.
Don’t be ashamed of being you. You may not always have the best advice. You may not always be an expert. You may not always know what you are doing, but you still have worth. Your ideas still matter. You still matter. Your excitement can spread. Your newness may be an advantage at times. Your energy and curiosity will help you. So don’t stand in your own way.
This year will be an adventure, you already know that, but this year is just another year. Even on your worst days, it will only be a day. The tide will always turn. There will always be more good than bad. More success than failure. And you can only do your best, you can only bring everything you’ve got, you can only do so much. There will be much outside of your control, but how you feel about it is in your hands, don’t forget that. Smile, laugh, think, reflect, reach out, be you, be kind, be honest, wonder, and try. Yes, this next year will be scary at first, but anything amazing always. I have a feeling it will be just fine.