Dear First Year Teacher,

I often think back to my first year teaching and I’m going to be blunt… I see lots of worksheets, missed connections with students, and an extreme lack of confidence in myself. I am not embarrassed or ashamed by this as I am proud of who I have become today. I’m able to look back and see the learning trajectory from that date back in 2010 to now. The path of my trajectory keeps sky rocketing with force. And the best part about it is that there is no end.

Embrace the messiness of your first year teaching. You only know what you know and that is ok. One of the most powerful tools you can use as a teacher is to become reflective about your teaching practice. Show yourself grace in this life long learning journey. I remember thinking to myself the first few years that I needed to learn and master everything. Yet little did I know there is never true mastery in the art of teaching. How can you master something that is constantly evolving. It seemed as though every time I had “mastered” something I would attend a professional development seminar and realize there was so much more to learn. That to me is the absolute beauty of teaching.

It’s all about the force of your teaching/professional growth trajectory. I want you to find that force within yourself and also within your surroundings. Drive that force by creating goals for yourself for each school year. I don’t mean 10 goals because lets face it, the tasks and demands of teachers is so high that it will be impossible to really achieve 10 goals in a school year. I like to stick to 2 goals or teaching practices that can be added to the classroom each year. Using 2 new goals/practices allows me to dig deep and learn by research and doing within the classroom.

I remember the fear of jumping in to new practices when I was a first year teacher. What if it was a big flop? How can I teach something I don’t really know enough about? These questions are a waste of time. Don’t listen to that. Listen to your innovative ideas, your heart and what students need. I used to think I needed to know everything as a teacher before teaching it, but honestly the best lessons that instilled so much grit and perseverance in my students was when I learned along side with them. They learned very simply that mistakes are ok. They were able to see my growth along side with theirs and it was so much more engaging for my students and myself.

If I could scream this from the mountain tops I would… “JOIN TWITTER!” My new teacher self back in 2010 would have laughed at that comment if I heard it then. I didn’t know the power it had yet. In the words of Todd Nesloney “Don’t live on an island.” The power of twitter is real. “Out of the 1/2 billion tweets that post every day, 4.2 million are related to education, according to Brett Baker, an account executive at Twitter.com.” https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-04-30-twitter-exec-reports-that-educators-dominate-the-twitter-sphere It is a place to collaborate, learn, and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Its filled with a pool of teachers who want to push themselves on this teaching trajectory each and every day.

Twitter does have amazing benefits, but also always know some of the best professional development can be from your next door neighbor. I have never been in a classroom where I can’t take away at least 5 new ideas that would benefit my students. Visit your colleagues classrooms when you can. Collaboration time between teachers is valuable and essential. I know its easy to isolate yourself the first year or even years after because you may not feel like you are confident to bring any ideas to the table. Find your voice though. I was told recently by an administrator that any decision you make, if its in the best interest of the children cannot be wrong. Don’t be afraid to speak up and share your ideas. They are just as valuable as anyone else’s.

Enjoy this bumpy roller coaster every minute. If I could go back to my first year self I would simply say…be proud, speak up and get off that island! Look for those micro moments with your students and make meaningful connections. Learn alongside with them when jumping into a new idea or practice. Self reflection is the key to any change and growth. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela. How amazing is it that you now have a role in changing the world and our future. Best of luck on your teaching trajectory.

If your interested in starting your twitter journey I highly recommend following: @KidsDeserveIt @TechNinjaTodd @gcouros @teacher2teacher @mraspinall @train_ugly @SteeleThoughts @CRCarter313 @BuildMathMinds

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