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September 9, 2014 Dear Teacher: Hang in There! It Gets Better By Meghan Everette
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    While many teachers around the country are just heading back to their classrooms for a new year, I am in my third week of school, which I am pretty sure is the hardest week of the year. We are gearing up for “real” coursework and tests, parents are starting to complain, behavior systems are being tested, and the room is a mess. It is around this time that I’ll get my first sore throat, my first sick kids, and I start hitting that snooze button repeatedly. I wish I had a letter from the end of the year. I’d tell myself, and all of the back-to-school teachers out there: “Dear Teacher, Hang in there! It gets better.”

     

    They Are Learning

    We’ve been in school for 14 days, what do you mean you Messy teacher deskdon’t know Rule 2? I have to remember that my students, especially my very young students, are still learning. They are still figuring me out as my first-day smiles fade and my less tolerant teacher self shows through. Even though I’ve said it 3,000 times, I have to remember these are new kids.

    I heard it takes 26 times for an ad to convince someone to purchase something. I wonder how many times it takes before Billy knows we don’t interrupt the group, or Sally doesn’t ask to feed the fish when it isn’t her day. My guess is more than 26, and I need to breathe deeply and answer sweetly through all of those times. These kids aren’t “just” learning, they are absorbing and processing the new school world around them. Cut them, and yourself, some slack and give it time.

     

    A Clean Room Doesn’t Mean a Successful Teacher

    There are memes and homemade signs that plaster the Internet saying that our house is a home, and as Peeling nametagssuch, the dishes will go undone, the laundry is in piles, and the kids probably need a bath. I could just as easily hang this in my classroom. I’m pretty type-A by nature, and I want my room to be neat and organized. Then there are all the forms I’m collecting, the pile to be laminated, the pile to be cut out, the extra copies of previously sent forms for that kid that forgot, and the practice test that someone didn’t finish . . .  . It gets out of control quickly. I don’t have a desk, but somehow my table piles up just the same. However, if I want to see my family before dark each night, I have to walk away. Here’s what I promise myself and my classroom:

    1. I will clean or put away two things at the end of each day.

    2. I will be prepared for the next day before I leave.

    3. I will cross at least one item off the never-ending to-do list.

    4. I will go home, eat dinner, and participate in family life with a clear conscious.

    You know what? Even keeping those promises, the mess will still be there tomorrow. I’d be a little scared of a classroom that looked like a hospital anyway!

     

    Even Bloggers Aren’t Perfect

    It’s simple to pop online and search for other classrooms. You get this glimpse into an immaculate room withJob chart written on the board above-average kids and pristine projects (you know, the kind some amazing teacher developed and the kids actually did with no help from Mom and Dad). Even scrolling through my own past blog posts, I'm amazed by how efficient I look. The truth is, that online glimpse shows just a very tiny part of a very unpolished life. Even knowing that truth, I look at other’s work and I’m floored by their energy and ingenuity. So just don’t do it. Don’t compare your classroom, your kids, and your life with the cropped photos someone puts on the Internet. You never know what is really behind the curtain and you certainly don’t need to run an imaginary race with people you don’t even know.

     

    We Will Get There

    The hardest thing about starting the year is starting over. I could have sworn that I taught all the kids in my Dead classroom fishclass to read, but I blinked, the year went by, and suddenly I’m starting over with the alphabet again. It is completely disheartening and overwhelming to get that first reading report and see where some kids are falling behind. It’s like standing at the bottom of a mountain and knowing you have to trudge to the top. Guess what, guys? You will get there. We all will.

    Do you remember starting last year? If you’ve taught before, you’ve felt this way. You made it, right? And you will again. If you’ve never taught, remember the confidence and love that took you into teaching. You want to make a difference, and you will.

     

    Rise Above

    I heard once that someone who complains is like someone who throws up; the person who is sick feels Unhung postersbetter, but everyone else feels worse. I’m not saying that you can’t ever have a complaint, but don’t let yourself get bogged down in what feels impossible. Find a friend and support each other, develop a new lesson you can be excited about, and look for little glimmers of hope and light each day. Follow fellow teachers on Twitter (@bamameghan) or join in ed chats, like #EdTherapy, which is designed to help teachers deal with struggles and find solutions. Keep up with simple solutions from real teachers who struggle just like you on Top Teaching.

    My friend and teacher-support Amy Lowe once said that at the beginning of the year, we are alone on a raft. We tie a rope on each student, no matter how far away they are, and start pulling them to shore no matter what. We never leave a man behind. So get your lifeboat ready and start rowing!

     

    Smiling class

     

    What are your start-of-the-year struggles and how do you deal with them?

    While many teachers around the country are just heading back to their classrooms for a new year, I am in my third week of school, which I am pretty sure is the hardest week of the year. We are gearing up for “real” coursework and tests, parents are starting to complain, behavior systems are being tested, and the room is a mess. It is around this time that I’ll get my first sore throat, my first sick kids, and I start hitting that snooze button repeatedly. I wish I had a letter from the end of the year. I’d tell myself, and all of the back-to-school teachers out there: “Dear Teacher, Hang in there! It gets better.”

     

    They Are Learning

    We’ve been in school for 14 days, what do you mean you Messy teacher deskdon’t know Rule 2? I have to remember that my students, especially my very young students, are still learning. They are still figuring me out as my first-day smiles fade and my less tolerant teacher self shows through. Even though I’ve said it 3,000 times, I have to remember these are new kids.

    I heard it takes 26 times for an ad to convince someone to purchase something. I wonder how many times it takes before Billy knows we don’t interrupt the group, or Sally doesn’t ask to feed the fish when it isn’t her day. My guess is more than 26, and I need to breathe deeply and answer sweetly through all of those times. These kids aren’t “just” learning, they are absorbing and processing the new school world around them. Cut them, and yourself, some slack and give it time.

     

    A Clean Room Doesn’t Mean a Successful Teacher

    There are memes and homemade signs that plaster the Internet saying that our house is a home, and as Peeling nametagssuch, the dishes will go undone, the laundry is in piles, and the kids probably need a bath. I could just as easily hang this in my classroom. I’m pretty type-A by nature, and I want my room to be neat and organized. Then there are all the forms I’m collecting, the pile to be laminated, the pile to be cut out, the extra copies of previously sent forms for that kid that forgot, and the practice test that someone didn’t finish . . .  . It gets out of control quickly. I don’t have a desk, but somehow my table piles up just the same. However, if I want to see my family before dark each night, I have to walk away. Here’s what I promise myself and my classroom:

    1. I will clean or put away two things at the end of each day.

    2. I will be prepared for the next day before I leave.

    3. I will cross at least one item off the never-ending to-do list.

    4. I will go home, eat dinner, and participate in family life with a clear conscious.

    You know what? Even keeping those promises, the mess will still be there tomorrow. I’d be a little scared of a classroom that looked like a hospital anyway!

     

    Even Bloggers Aren’t Perfect

    It’s simple to pop online and search for other classrooms. You get this glimpse into an immaculate room withJob chart written on the board above-average kids and pristine projects (you know, the kind some amazing teacher developed and the kids actually did with no help from Mom and Dad). Even scrolling through my own past blog posts, I'm amazed by how efficient I look. The truth is, that online glimpse shows just a very tiny part of a very unpolished life. Even knowing that truth, I look at other’s work and I’m floored by their energy and ingenuity. So just don’t do it. Don’t compare your classroom, your kids, and your life with the cropped photos someone puts on the Internet. You never know what is really behind the curtain and you certainly don’t need to run an imaginary race with people you don’t even know.

     

    We Will Get There

    The hardest thing about starting the year is starting over. I could have sworn that I taught all the kids in my Dead classroom fishclass to read, but I blinked, the year went by, and suddenly I’m starting over with the alphabet again. It is completely disheartening and overwhelming to get that first reading report and see where some kids are falling behind. It’s like standing at the bottom of a mountain and knowing you have to trudge to the top. Guess what, guys? You will get there. We all will.

    Do you remember starting last year? If you’ve taught before, you’ve felt this way. You made it, right? And you will again. If you’ve never taught, remember the confidence and love that took you into teaching. You want to make a difference, and you will.

     

    Rise Above

    I heard once that someone who complains is like someone who throws up; the person who is sick feels Unhung postersbetter, but everyone else feels worse. I’m not saying that you can’t ever have a complaint, but don’t let yourself get bogged down in what feels impossible. Find a friend and support each other, develop a new lesson you can be excited about, and look for little glimmers of hope and light each day. Follow fellow teachers on Twitter (@bamameghan) or join in ed chats, like #EdTherapy, which is designed to help teachers deal with struggles and find solutions. Keep up with simple solutions from real teachers who struggle just like you on Top Teaching.

    My friend and teacher-support Amy Lowe once said that at the beginning of the year, we are alone on a raft. We tie a rope on each student, no matter how far away they are, and start pulling them to shore no matter what. We never leave a man behind. So get your lifeboat ready and start rowing!

     

    Smiling class

     

    What are your start-of-the-year struggles and how do you deal with them?

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