I am a new teacher. This year is only my second year in the classroom, and I am still stumbling around like I started yesterday.
In my roughly year and 2 months of teaching, I have been given a lot of “advice” and heard a lot of opinions. Someone of these things were helpful, others, not so much.
These are just a few things that I beg, no I implore you, never to say to a new teacher.
1) “If I were you, I would get out of teaching right now…”
Here is the thing about this statement: I am obviously not going to get out of teaching right now. I didn’t spend 5 years in school to just change my mind. I know what goes on in politics; I know all of the changes that are coming down the pipe for education. They didn’t shelter us from those things in our education classes, because they wanted us to be prepared when we became real teachers.
I am not planning on quitting my job; what else would I do? A call is a call. A new teacher doesn’t need to hear someone say “ignore the hard work you put in for 5 years; go do something you don’t care as much about!”
A new teacher needs to hear “Education is a difficult field to be in, but if you love it, it is worth it”
Teachers, especially new teachers, need encouragement, not discouragement telling us that the choice we made was, apparently, wrong. We aren’t planning on getting out of education.
2) “You look much too young to be a teacher…”
If I had a dollar for every time someone said that to me, I would be able to retire early. (And then I would hear, “You look much too young to be retired.”)
First, I don’t think it is ever appropriate to comment on a person’s age- especially in the work place. I don’t know what it is about education, but it creates a free-reign atmosphere for personal opinion.
Second, I know this seems like a rant, and it sort of is, but even if I look young, I am still a professional. I still went through 5 years of school, I went through job interviews, I got hired. I didn’t trick anyone into hiring me. I never lied about my age. I am old enough and certified for the position.
3) “It is only going to get worse…”
YIKES! Don’t say those things to me or anyone unless you are a medical professional and someone really needs to hear that.
New teachers (especially this new teacher) need encouragement. We obviously know that somethings might not get better until they get worse. This can mean anything: the state of education as a whole, a child’s behavior, the panic and frustration. We know those things are going to be crazy, but please don’t be a pessimist towards a new teacher. PLEASE.
4) “I don’t know if it is worth it…”
I have heard this in regards to the salary, the hours spent working, the money spent, the discipline issues. I have heard it in every situation.
I know I don’t get paid a lot. There is a chance I will never get paid a lot. I didn’t get into it for the money.
I know I spend way more of my “off” time working than I should. I didn’t get into teaching to off work by 3:45
I know I spend way more of my own money than I should. Most people would never dream of buying things for their job. I didn’t get into teaching for an expense account (even though that would be great!)
I know I spend a lot of my time figuring out ways to reach that one, or two kids. I spend a lot of my heart on children that will walk out of my class in May and never think of me again. I didn’t get into teaching to be remembered.
At the end of the day, being underpaid, overworked, and tired can feel just like those things should feel. But, if you ask any teacher, there are those days, and they come, that you know that it was all completely worth it.
I say all of these things not to rant about the hardships of being a first year teacher. I say all these to things to maybe help people remember, this is not just a chosen career, but it is also a calling. Teachers choose to teach not because they don’t have anything better to do, but rather, because this is the best.
Being a new teacher is scary and difficult and exhausting. We are watching our friends start jobs that probably have higher salaries, better benefits, and hours that (really) end at 5.
New teachers are learning how to manage behavior, differentiate education, grade hundreds of papers, all while trying to stay above water and hopefully have a life. So please- instead of telling that new teacher you know to “get out while you can,” why don’t you tell them them thank you and maybe give them a hug. Or a cup of coffee (or a iced mocha).