A letter to my July 2012 self:
Your first year of teaching is going to be full of joy, happiness, laughter, epic lessons, exhaustion, stress, many bad lessons, and difficult decisions. I know you will pour your whole heart into this career, doing everything you can for these kids. You will stay at school late, go in early, and stay up until crazy hours- just to be sure that everything you need for the following day, week, project is the best you could possibly do. You will research tons of blogs every night, to find the best possible way to teach that math concept or reading strategy. Know that those long, late nights won't always turn out the way you expected them to but that doesn't mean you are a failure. You are a first year teacher and will learn from those lessons gone wrong. Cut yourself some slack. You can't always be on your game, even though you try to be.
In your first year, you will lose 3 of your students and gain another (which will prove to be difficult transitions on their own, know that you did all you could for all 3 of these students- especially one in particular: you will know her when you see her - She will test your patience and drive you crazy, but she will also make you laugh and smile everyday with her hugs, smile, and appreciation of you- she is one that needs you the most), you'll deal with difficult behaviors (don't worry, you learn the best ways to handle these by building strong relationships with your students and holding high expectations) and a new curriculum (Everyone else is on this boat with you!). You'll also deal with, what I guess you can call, "tough" parents, but they only want what is best for their child, listen to them...then don't be afraid to tell them what you see as well because you want what's best for them too!
Even though this year will be difficult and exhausting, you will have many things to celebrate. You and your students will have fun learning. You will laugh, joke, dance, and smile. You will plan exciting, engaging lessons and projects, and sometimes even be late to lunch because you are all having so much fun that you lose track of time. Your students will tell you how much they love you and what a great teacher you are (especially when you are feeling like the worst teacher in the world). And though you don't feel like it at the end of the year, know you have made an impact on those 22 little 8 year olds. You showed them how much you truly cared (and always will care) about them, and taught them a whole lot more than just the curriculum. These babies will put a stamp on your heart forever and you on theirs.
So this year, don't be so hard on yourself. Reach out if you need help. Don't be afraid of people "judging" you: we are all in this thing together. And last, be proud of being a teacher, it is the most important job anyone could ever do.
Your Future Self