You’re excited and ready to take on this new challenge. You’ve just spent the last four years of your life preparing for this day. The moment that was only a far off dream a few years ago is finally here. You have your own classroom. You decorated it perfectly. You have made your first real set of lesson plans. And you are about to meet all of your students for the first time. You feel prepared, nervous and a little anxious for what’s coming up. Don’t worry! When the kids walk in, the nerves will go away and you will know that this is what you are supposed to do.
When things finally settle down after the first few weeks of school, don’t let work get in the way of life. Don’t stop doing the things you love to do. Keep running and cooking dinners for you and Isaac. Don’t stop taking Lillie to the dog park, and open up to the new friends that will come in to your life. Things at school and home will be much more rewarding when you remember to take care of you, and not just the 38 students you’ll have this year.
Don’t forget your passion for teaching when times get tough. This year will be challenging. There will be days when you go home and cry. You will face times when you feel like you’re talking to an empty class, and others when you are so overwhelmed with life that you feel like you’re drowning. Don’t forget why you are teaching when your students come up and say they hate your class. Don’t let it get to you when your encouragement and feedback fall on deaf ears. And most of all, don’t forget that you are here for them. Because when you come to the end of the school year, those students who you thought you weren’t reaching will come up to you, tears falling down their cheeks, and tell you they will miss you and thank you for all you did this year.
When you look back on your first weeks and months of teaching, instead of focusing on everything that could have (and did) go wrong, choose to think about the good things that happened and look forward to the things yet to come. Look for the big grin your student will have when you read their poem to the class. Listen for those cheers of excitement when they hear you read books to them. Enjoy their sweet hugs, high fives and fist bumps when they show you how much they love you. Engrave the image of their smiling faces when they come in from recess and are ready to learn. And guard the memories of their looks of surprise when they realize how much they’ve grown over the year and how proud you are of them.
You are about to start a new chapter in life. This chapter will feel long and short at the same time. It will be full of laughter, tears, stress and joy. It will hold the memories of new friendships, time with family, quiet moments with God, and more love than you could ever imagine. Push through the tough times! You can do it, and you will finish this year stronger, wiser and much more humble than you started.
And most importantly, Me on the First Day of School, don’t forget to smile.