It is hard to know even where to begin, when reflecting about my first year of teaching. My first year of teaching was a rollercoaster, to say the least. As any veteran teacher would admit, your first year of teaching is difficult. Throw in trying to maintain an international relationship, in an emotional state, that took you back to the time when your parents were getting a divorce, and you can just call it seemingly impossible and just a bit traumatic. I was naïve about just how challenging my first year of teaching would be. However, with as many challenges as my first year of teaching unknowingly entailed, I have come to greatly appreciate the amount of growth I have experienced personally, professionally, as well as for an advocate for my students and for myself.
Having moved from California to Colorado in the course of two days, only to begin teaching a week later, my world was turned and shaken upside down. I was in a new, uncharted space both in my professional and home life. I said goodbye to the support of my family, friends, and loved ones, and said hello to a beautiful class of fourth grade students.
When I first met my students, I felt an immediate sense of love for them. They were a room full of diverse, unique, and incredible beings waiting to learn skills that I hoped, and still hope, would help them accomplish their own passion and dreams. I, also, felt an overwhelming and tremendous sense of responsibility for 60 plus beings that had been left in the responsibility of my hands to educate. I immediately recognized the urgency and importance of the matter. I knew that I knew a tiny amount of the vast amount of information I would need to learn, quickly, in order to give my students the kind of education that they deserved.
Thanks to an incredibly strong team, and other amazing people, I grew, to what felt like painfully, and quickly as a teacher. Not only did I learn the basics of how to teach my content areas, have classroom management, and have a plethora of different engagement strategies, I also learned how to interact with co-workers, administration, and educational philosophies that were very different and contradictory to my own.
To say the least, I learned at an exponential rate about so many things in my first year of teaching. I learned that patience is a virtue. I learned that when life seems impossible, there are people placed in your life that are there to take you under their wing, support you, and help you to become the person you are meant to become. I learned the importance of following through on your word. When you say something, mean it, or else say goodbye to having any sort of classroom management. I learned that anything that I, or my students, could think about, we could achieve. It would take hard work and perseverance, but we could do it. We could do it together, even if we would make each other laugh, cry, or angry in the process. I learned that seeing my student’s personal and academic growth, was one of the most rewarding things I have ever accomplished in my entire life.
As hard as my first year of teaching has been, I am, and will be eternally grateful for what my first year of teaching has taught me. I would not take back any of the moments I thought I would not make it, any of the moments I thought it was impossible, any of the moments I quite honestly hated, nor would I take back any of the moments where my students have called me “the best teacher ever,” their “best friend,” or the simple times when they said, “thank you for being there for me,” and “we love you.” My students, and my first year of teaching, have forever changed my life and have impacted me in ways that I do not think I could fully comprehend at this moment.
With eight teaching days left, I hope to leave with my students with an enduring belief that their potential is limitless. They can and will achieve anything that they set out to accomplish. That is, with hard work and perseverance; they can make their dreams come true.
As for my own next steps…in the words of one of my students “never quit your dreams,” I cannot wait for what the future holds…