I remember what it was like to be the #newkid in school. You see, we moved a lot when I was a kid. My mom used to joke that my cumulative file must have looked like my parents were migrant workers. They weren’t, but my dad’s job kept us on the move – 5 elementary schools in 7 years before we settled in one place for my junior and senior high years. I was the #newkid in school a lot.
I share this because the feelings when you are a #newteacher feel a whole lot like being a #newkid. What will the school be like? Will the other teachers like me? Who will I sit with at lunch? What if no one sits by me at lunch? How do they dress? It is really overwhelming and bit scary too!
I now have two years of teaching under my belt and I’ve learned some things. My school is awesome. I work with great teachers, administrators and support staff. I think most of my colleagues like me, and, even if we’re not “friends” per se, we can still work well together in the best interest of our students. I eat lunch by myself because, due to scheduling, almost no one in my building has the same lunch period I do (this will change this fall and that will be kind of nice). We dress in a variety of ways and that’s okay because our students do too and it’s good for them to see that it is okay to be different.
My experience as the #newteacher has been a little bit unique because I am also a career changer. Yep, a 37-year old #newkid! It has had its advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, most people (staff and students alike) assumed that I was new to the district, but it didn’t occur to them that I was new to the profession. This, along with the fact that I was similar in age to a lot of my students’ parents, really helped with classroom management. On the downside, because most of my colleagues had no idea that I was a true #newkid, sometimes they assumed that I knew things that I didn’t. I had to seek out a lot of the same help that I saw offered to other, younger, first-year teachers. (It is important to note that my peers were all more than helpful when I asked for help!)
As I reflect on my first two years of teaching, the advice I would give to nervous #newteachers is this: It is okay to be nervous. It is more than okay – I’d be shocked if you weren’t! It will be okay, really. The teachers, administrators and support staff at your school want to help you, and if they don’t come knocking on your door, don’t be afraid to go knock on theirs. You know how we tell students that there is no such thing as a stupid question? Well, that applies to you too! The next year is going to be really challenging, but it is also going to be really fun. It will fly by. You will get some things wrong, but you’ll also get a lot of things right, and your fellow teachers will be there to help you along the way.
Kirsten Britt teaches Middle School English/Language Arts in Norwalk, Iowa. 2016-17 will be her third year of teaching. Follow her on Twitter @MrsBritt709.