Dear New Teacher:
You could be anyone. Someone whom completed any of a thousand education programs in the country. Your degree is still warm as it rests in your pocket. A resume of immense accomplishment glistens like freshly minted money. Eyes bright, wide open, and filled with ambition. The world rests at your feet ready for you to change it for the better. Filling young minds with a love of education inflames your soul. You are ready. However, I beg you, no implore you, not to let years sap your passion and allow the basics of good teaching to leave you.
Please remember even after 20 years have passed why you teach and a few basic ideas which I believe will serve you well thru your career. When you cross the threshold of your classroom, leave all bias at the door. I know this seems like a tall task, since we are all inherently disposed to bias whether it’s through upbringing or other experiences that color our world. When you look at a student in your classroom please see that child as just another human being in need of your gifts. Give these to your students freely. Wrap your teaching in love and compassion and not misplaced assumptions.
Kids come to you unpolished or undereducated due to conditions sometimes unimaginable. Keep that in mind as you teach over the years. When a child is underperforming in your class or has behavior issues take the time to build a relationship. Ask some questions. Speak to the child after class and you may find some horrific truths. Homelessness, abuse, food issues, and incarceration of one, if not both parents, could all be issues which are effecting your student’s academics. Not to mention behaviors that led to suspensions or other discipline. Transportation issues may keep a child from school on a regular basis or the mom may be too tired or strung out to properly take the child to the bus stop. In short, be there and listen when the time arrives and don’t ever relegate a child to failure. Listen to the issues and be there in a mode of compassion and not judgement.
Finally, don’t let burnout singe the students in your care. Remain optimistic about your profession and speak about it positively when the opportunity presents itself. It’s easy for cynicism to creep in. We see at times the worst of humanity. Remain professional even when a child is enraged and saying things to you that are hurtful. Remember a child could be acting for a variety of reasons. Remember tragedy has no age range. It attacks all regardless of race, religion or creed. It’s an equal opportunity aggressor.
In closing, have fun over the years and remember this old adage that will always hold true: “If you save one in your career you’ve been successful. ” This phrase may seem limited in its scope, but if you save one and he/she goes on to improve the world you can sit back in retirement and be proud. With that said have a good career and God Speed.
20 year educator