As part of my new position for our school district, I attended New Teacher Orientation for the first time since I was a new teacher myself. It was a very interesting experience. Being with all new people, who obviously don’t know me, they assumed at first that I was a new teacher as well.
I live in the same small town that I teach in and everyone knows the teachers here, at least at the elementary and intermediate levels. If I’m not known as Mrs. M, they know me because of being M’s mom or S’s mom. People not known are the exception in this community. The town, while growing, is still small enough that we have only one of each building, elementary, intermediate, middle and high, even though there are 8 or 9 sections of each grade level.
While I hadn’t really ever thought about my own new teacher orientation experience, sitting there with those new teachers today, I was instantly transported back to that day. Our meeting was held in the board office and at that time it was in a building that could best be described as ramshackle. It had cheap panelling on the wall, ceiling tiles and very worn carpet. Since then the building has been a flower shop and a beauty shop, as well as some other things I don’t remember. The meeting was held upstairs in the building around a table and I was on cloud nine to be sitting there! The adreline and excitement were so high that I don’t remember much of anything except going to lunch at a nice restaurant and a lot of paperwork.
The piece of wisdom that stuck with me, wasn’t given to me during the New Teacher Orientiation, but came later that first week from my former kindergarten teacher .
“Teaching is the only profession where you will be expected to do the same job the first day as you will the day you retire.”
Think about that little gem of advice. As I’ve looked back at all I have learned about teaching since that first year, I almost feel apologetic to those first students. On the other hand, there is nothing that can replace the energy and enthusiasm and time you have as a new, young teacher. I loved that first group of students as much as I loved last year’s group. I still find myself a little teary that last week of school at the thought of never really getting to be together as a group in the same way again.
The best piece of advice I can think to give new teachers is to take the time to establish relationships and routines. The FIrst Six Weeks of School has some great ideas for how to start building that all-important community in your classroom. It is published by Responsive Classroom. They also have a great website and monthly newsletter. Check it out as you get ready for your new year!