reflections on my third year of teaching

Two and a half days left of the school year.  Two and a half days left of my third year of teaching.  Honestly, if you would have told me during my first year of teaching that I’d actually make it to 3 years, I probably would’ve laughed in your face, and then broken down into tears.  My first year of teaching was rough.  I’ve never doubted myself with my abilities that much or felt so much like a failure ever in my life.  I spent many-a-nights in tears over my day.  I had many sleepless nights dreading the next day of school.  Needless to say, it was an extremely hard year for me.

During that first year of teaching, I had several teachers tell me that the first three years of teaching are the hardest.  Now that I’ve survived those three years, I can honestly say they were right.  But, it has gotten so much easier.  I finally feel like I have found my groove and am becoming the teacher I always envisioned myself being.  Am I Mrs. Tackett yet?  Far from it, nor will I ever be as incredible as she is.  But, I am beginning to really love what I do and feel like I actually know what I’m doing.

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Those of you who are not teachers might feel that three years is a long time to not know how to do your job.  And you would be right.  It’s not that I don’t know how to do my job or that I’m not a good teacher.  It’s that every single day is different and completely unexpected.  There are days when every single kid – even the good ones – are pushing my buttons and trying to cause me to go just a tad bit crazy.  Other days, I might have the one kid who has been driving me up the wall say something that shows me I am finally getting through to them.  It’s the toughest job I’ve ever had, yet it’s probably one of the most rewarding.  (A good weight loss success story is tough to beat…)

My first year I felt that every single kid was against me.  I felt that I was given the worst classes I could possibly imagine (I mean, all eighth grade for a first year teacher isn’t exactly ideal) and that I was never, ever going to get through the end of that year.  I spent a lot of time reading and observing different teaching methods, just trying to figure out how to get things under control.  I thought I had the worst job and that I should have never gotten into education.

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Three years later, things are better.  There are a handful of kids that are by far not my favorite, but for the most part, I have some really great students.  Eighth graders are still my toughest classes to teach, but there are definitely some stellar kids in even the hardest of classes.  I’ve learned how to set expectations up front and enforce them to the best of my ability to keep my classes under control.  While I still struggle with how to respond to difficult situations (how do you react when a kid cusses you out?!), I’m getting much better.  I have had some great coworkers and mentors to help me along the way and I am forever indebted to them!

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My 2 counterparts who I owe a lot of who I am as a teacher to them!  We make a good team for sure!

There are days I come home absolutely LOVING my job, and other days, I am down on myself and frustrated.  But, I no longer wake up dreading driving in to work.  I’m finally comfortable in my teaching abilities and know that I have plenty of room for growth and improvement to continue making myself and even better teacher.  Do I feel that I will retire as a teacher?  I still haven’t decided that yet, but I know that regardless of where I am teaching or if I teach for the next 27 years, I feel like I’m at least doing something I enjoy.