Hello and happy Sunday! I haven’t made a blog post in what feels like such a long time! I have been incredibly busy lately. If you are in the state of Texas, you may be familiar with alternative teaching certification programs. If you are not familiar, allow me to explain. If you want to become a teacher in the state of Texas, but did not graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree in the field of education, you may pay money and complete courses through companies affiliated with the Texas Education Agency to obtain your teaching certification. These programs last one full school year, and you have projects and online modules to complete, as well as observations from a field supervisor. I chose to go that route to become a teacher, as my degree is in Applied Arts and Sciences. I thought completing the courses would be a piece of cake, but, like most other things in my new teaching career, I was very wrong. You complete the courses and projects while you are teaching, so it’s basically as if you are still in school to complete your degree. To make a long story short, I was so burnt out from going to school full time and working full time, that after I graduated in December, I put off completing my courses until the very last minute, and caused myself unnecessary stress. I have completed everything (finally) and feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and just in time for the end of the year and summer break. These past few days of my new found freedom have allowed me to reflect. When I was approaching graduation last November, I had it in my mind that I was going to immediately enroll back in school to complete my Master’s degree. Everyone kept telling me, “Maybe you should take a little break….a year off might be a really good idea…complete your alternative certification first and then see how you feel”. And all I kept thinking was, “Man, these people do not know me. I am a hard worker and a hustler and when I want what I want, I just have to go for it. I’m not afraid of a little hard work!” Again, like most things in my new teaching career, everyone was very right, and I was really wrong. Just working on establishing myself as a new teacher, completing all courses and requirements for my alternative certification, maintaining a balanced diet and exercise, trying to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, all while keeping my sanity turned out to actually be pretty hard. I write all of this because I have finally realized (at the middle of the last month of school) that the first year of teaching is really hard (as if you all didn’t know) and it’s okay to be more forgiving of yourself than you think you should be. Any of you who know me know that I am a HUGE perfectionist. Everything I do has to be perfect, and I usually don’t allow myself any wiggle room in that aspect. When I got hired as a teacher, my mom told me countless times that not everything will be perfect the first year of teaching, and that’s okay. Even my principal has told me several times that the first year is very difficult and that you can’t compare yourself to any other teacher on campus. But, being the stubborn person that I am, I thought I was going to get through this first year with no stumbles and it would be a breeze. Clearly that was not the case, but I truly could not be more grateful for that. This difficult year has taught me so much that I wouldn’t have learned if it wasn’t for the hardships and stress that I have experienced. I have learned so much; number one, I have learned to be so much nicer to myself. Looking back, I know that I have given this school year my all. I really beat myself up when I felt like my best wasn’t good enough. I wish I would have been more forgiving. I have put in 150% everyday for my students, and even if it wasn’t perfect, I did my very best and that’s all I can ever ask of myself. Number two, I have learned to start listening to others with more experience than me, especially my mom (don’t tell her I ever said that). Wisdom and knowledge come from experience, and as a new teacher, no matter how hard you try, you will never have all of the wisdom and knowledge experienced teachers have. Just do yourself a favor, and listen to the advice they tell you the first time.
With that being said, now that I have a little wisdom and knowledge myself, I’ll leave you with this: If you are about to embark on your first year of teaching, just know that if you do your very best every day, you are doing a great job. Also, don’t take on too much. Your plate is very full with trying to be the best teacher you can, don’t overwhelm yourself with items that can be accomplished your second or third year of teaching. And finally, forgive yourself. No one is perfect, especially a first year teacher. Try your best, learn as much as you can, and enjoy all the moments with your students, because the school year is really done before you know it.
If you are a first year teacher like me and are bringing your rookie year to a close, let me say this: congratulations! You have almost made it! Right about now, you are probably working on end of year testing and your calendar is full with many events to wrap up the year. Keep pushing, you only have a few weeks left, and you will never be a first year teacher again.
And last, but definitely not least, to those of you who have been by my side through this first year…THANK YOU! I know that being my friend and/or family member has not the been the easiest this school year, and I am so happy to have you. I promise I will start listening to all of your advice more!