If you’re reading this, maybe you’re a relatively new teacher, on your way to becoming one, or a veteran teacher looking to commiserate. (Or, you know, you’re just curious.) Welcome! I probably don’t need to tell you that teaching is a challenging career or that it’s also a rewarding one.
From behind-the-scenes politics and drama, parent emails demanding extra credit, to 40 students staring at you for the very the first time, teaching is much more than showing up every day with kick-butt instruction and hoping you get a movie made about the impact you had on your classes.
To any veteran teachers: I know we could talk all day about the frustrations of teaching, the low pay, lack of funding and community support, and some of your experiences with toxic work environments. However, to the new teacher, horror stories aren’t all that helpful. This list is meant to help new teachers prepare for things they can start preparing for and working through now.
So, on that note, I’ve put together a list of some of the things I wish I would have known before starting my career in hopes I can help you navigate some of the more surprising discoveries in the world of teaching.
Note: While I have subbed in many K-6 classes, I have always taught single subject, and these tips are based on my experience with older students. Most of these apply to any grade, but teachers entering primary education: Godspeed, my friends — modify these as necessary!
1-2-3, eyes on me! I’ll wait until you’re ready.
Teaching credential programs don’t prepare you as much as you’d hope.
Paper is a serious issue.
“Mean ‘til Halloween” is not a thing.
However, don’t try too hard to get them to like you.
Don’t ever EVER (EEEEEVER) plan a lesson that hinges 100% on students having done the homework.
Students appreciate knowing what they’re supposed to be learning that day.
Navigating parents and guardians is one of the hardest parts of the job.
There are definitely teacher cliques.
You are not going to jive with everyone’s teaching style — but that’s a good thing.
It’s essential to partner up and ask for help.
Don’t forget how hard it is to be a kid.
You will learn SO much from your students.
It’s going to take a few years to find your strengths.
Give yourself plenty of grace as you’re figuring out how to balance an ultra-full-time job with being a human.
Yes, there’s a teacher shortage and a lot of frustrations, but it’s still an amazing career for many.
There you have it. Hopefully, you learn from my mistakes and from the ones you’re going to make! May your drama be minimal and your paper be plentiful.