They say your third year of teaching is when it finally starts to come together.
I’m not sure it went exactly as planned. Sure, I knew how to handle the usual stressors better, but it was also a year full of new challenges, new things that I didn’t know how to handle, and new people that were constantly pushing me to be a better teacher.
You see, I thought I had found my limits in the first two years. I learned that I’m good at allocating time to things that need to get done and that I’m terrible at using that time efficiently. I love interacting with students and working with them daily and I loathe interacting with their assignments and assessments.
I spent a lot of time shaking off the imposter syndrome that seems to affect a lot of young teachers. We step into this role that we’ve known about from the day we start kindergarten or preschool, and suddenly we look around going, wait, really? I fooled them into giving me the keys to a classroom and they’re just going to…let me teach? Aren’t there checks and balances to stop me from getting this far?
I think you could say I spent the first three years of teaching convincing myself that I was actually a teacher.
Then I went to Colorado.
After a year of work in Richmond Community Schools’ Next Gen Cadre, I was selected to join a small group of my co-workers to go to InstructureCon and present about what we did. I got to talk about building a community of risk-takers, about getting permission to fail, and about sharing those failures (and successes!) so that we encourage that culture and that the lesson we learn don’t just stop with us. It was a phenomenal experience, and I’m extremely fortunate to have been able to experience it.
If the first three years were about convincing myself that I was a teacher, this summer was about determining what kind of a teacher I’m going to be. It’s not just about survival anymore. It’s not just about hitting standards and getting to things before the state test. I hate to admit that those were some of my greatest motivators, but they hit that primal, animalistic instinct of survival, and I rolled with it.
I finally have the peace of mind to look to the future and what that looks like for me in education. And with the fancy new tools at my disposal, the support of a very risk-friendly administration, and a wonderful community of peers, the future is exactly what I’m ready to make happen.
Look out, school year 2017-18. It’s going to be great!