I will never forget the day I got the call that I had been hired for my first teaching position. Images of precious, perfect students sitting in neat, quiet rows danced through my head. I could already hear the chorus of “Good morning, Mrs. Bryant!” that would intertwine with the click clack of my perfectly coordinated heels on the tiled floors. I envisioned the hands of every child raised at any and all questions that I asked. Every desk would be neatly organized, and my students would treat the books in my classroom library as priceless treasures. Behavior problems in my class??? Not EVER!!! Yep, I was definitely delusional! Although, my students were precious, reality was most certainly not aligned with the fairy tale experiences of my day dreams (and those adorable heels only made it until lunch).
Those first couple of groups will always stay with me. Those students absolutely taught me much more than I taught them! It was with those children that I learned what a teacher should be, and what I needed to do so that I could provide my students with the education they deserved. I am keenly aware of the mistakes I made in my rookie years. But more important than recognizing areas of weakness, I discovered that the most necessary attributes of being a great teacher are never giving up and always giving your best.
Is it sunshine and roses every day now that I am a more seasoned teacher? Absolutely NOT! Teaching can be incredibly challenging no matter the number of years you’ve accumulated. Having 25+ children with 25+ different needs can quickly wear you out and down. Yet, even with the ever rising and never ending list of demands, we still find ourselves coming back for more. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we stay up all hours of the night planning, use our limited free time creating resources, spend our own money on supplies/materials, search Pinterest and TPT for the best tools of the trade, and follow thirty different teacher blogs for fresh ideas? We do it because we LOVE seeing children learn. We LOVE helping our students understand something that they just didn’t get at first. We LOVE watching them develop into confident thinkers who can justify and defend their opinions with sound reasoning. In the midst of the chaos and pressure, it is easy to lose sight of why we started teaching in the first place (It sure wasn’t to make the big bucks). Sometimes, I simply need to be reminded that my job is to help children not just succeed, but thrive. Getting your teaching degree isn’t an automatic recipe for success in the classroom and hitting your 10th teachiversary (yes, I just made that up) doesn’t magically turn your classroom into a fairy tale. But we can take comfort in knowing the relationships we build and the knowledge we share can and will pave the way for our students to reach their happily ever afters.