being a teacher, being me, new year


So much depends on the word "yet..."

It happens every year without fail.  We get a few days in, the year slowly starting, and all of a sudden it hits me; I am doing something wrong.  Whatever I thought I was good at, I am clearly not.   After all, how can anyone feel this exhausted and consider themselves good at anything?

Driving home today, I kept thinking about how far we still have to go.  How much these brand new kids don’t know.  How they don’t get me or us.  How hard it is to get them started with something, how even the smallest thing takes a long time.  How every day goes by in a flash yet seems so long.  How a new year is hard and you end up questioning every single thing you do because surely you must be doing something wrong because didn’t this go much better the year before?

But that’s it, isn’t it; it’s a new year. And we forget that when we compare these kids to the kids we just said goodbye to.  We forget just how far we came last year and how hard we worked to get there.   Those kids that we remember so fondly because of how much learning happened started out confused, unsure, and just a little bit rowdy as well.  We forget how much work it is to set up a well functioning classroom, to help kids read, to help kids write, to help kids feel safe, because last year now seems so far away.

So before we give up on ourselves and assume this year is doomed.  Before we beat ourselves up too much.  Before we wonder if we really know what we are doing, just remember this…

We haven’t figured each other out…yet.

We don’t know each other’s habits…yet.

We don’t have a bond…yet.

We haven’t established our routines…yet.

We haven’t accomplished much…yet.

We do not feel quite like a class…yet.

That takes time, and right now that is one of the biggest things we have.  So tomorrow if you go to school wondering if you really know what you are doing, remember this; every single thing you are doing right now is planting a seed for what your classroom will feel like later in the year.  So much like we wait to see seed grow into flowers, we also have to wait for our students to bloom.   Because the whole year is ahead, a whole year to make this year great, a whole year to have these kids become those kids that we remember fondly when we stand in despair the following year.  No matter how long we teach, we seem to always forget that starting a new year is hard, is exhausting, and yet is one of the best parts of the year.  After all, we don’t know each other yet, but we are starting to.


15 thoughts on “Yet…”

  1. Thank you. I needed this; you have made me feel so much better. Your words of course are totally true as are the feelings of inadequacy, confusion, helplessness, and hopelessness. I just needed to hear that inner voice out loud! Breathe deeply, it will get better.

  2. Pernille, here in Australia, our new school year starts Feb 2017. Am going to save this post of yours and read it many times at the beginning of next year. Can’t allow myself right now to even think about parting ways with my current Grade 5 class ……Yes, we have all come such a long way together…learning….bonding…trusting…sharing. This all takes time, patience, love of learning and caring about each student in our care.

  3. Ah, the power and promise of the word, “yet”! Thanks for a timely post and for the reminder that “every single thing you are doing right now is planting a seed for what your classroom will feel like later in the year.”

  4. And just today I was questioning why I’m so ineffective when I had such success with my kids last year. Never mind that I had known those kids for three years, and I’m in a new school this year.
    Thank you!!!

  5. Thank you. Thank you for writing out the words that I could not formulate into sentences because I am too exhausted to think straight. Thank you for understanding what I (and thousands more) are going through right now. You have given a voice to my innermost thoughts and for that I am relieved that someone understands (and can coherently describe it to others for me). Thank you!!

  6. This was just what I needed! Thank you for having the words and mindset to remind me of all that is to come this year.. 😀

  7. I was feeling exactly this way, while driving home today. Only 4 days in…feeling like I’m doing something wrong. Thank you for your encouragement. It helps to know that other teachers feel the same way.It is a long year….a marathon not a sprint. It reminded me not to be so hard on myself (just as I tell my students). Thank you!

  8. This article is so true! Thanks for reminding me that teaching is a work in progress.
    As a teacher, I’m always hard on myself when I assess a challenging day.. I need to remember the steps necessary to succeed..” I’m not there “YET” , I discovered through this article, that I need to plant a little seed here, and a little seed there. Thank you so much for the insight.

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