This weekend I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel of other masters students to enlighten those new to the field. Many in the audience were second career teachers, hoping to have finally found their way to their calling. The 6 panel members had a collective 20 years in the classroom, with my measly 1. Needless to say, I felt that my knowledge was inferior compared to the 10 year veteran sitting to my left.
While I did impart my sage wisdom to the eager minds of my new colleagues, I wish that I had shared so much more. One panel member, shared with the doe-eyed audience that you do not have to be experts in the field, that classroom management is so much more, that content is 2% teaching and management the other 98%. While I’m not sure that his statistics are correct, I can attest to the fact that no matter how solid you are on verbs and adjectives and sentence structure, the students will not gain that information if you are not solid on classroom management.
What I wished I had said to this new class of teachers was that you will mess up. You will not be consistent 100% of the time. You will forget to make copies and you will make copies of the entirely wrong thing. You will come to school with the best laid plans, finally remembering all of your copies and materials, and will have forgotten the 3 hour lock-down drill. You will have meetings every week, sometimes every day of every week. You will get sick, and then better, and then sicker than you could ever imagine, and then wonder if you finally caught mono. You will reteach lessons, wondering [hoping] if your students will finally grasp the content. You will be more tired than you could possibly imagine. This is because you are human, you work with humans, and you teach humans. This is because you are trying to grade 80 papers. This is because you are trying to complete engaging lesson plans for all 80 students while reflecting on last week and looking over the unit tests. This is because you stayed up late to complete grad school work. This is because you made time to have a life outside of school. And that is ok. Own your mistakes; they are how you show your own learning process and show that you are human too.
But also know that in the end, you will have taught these 80 middle schoolers that it is ok to be human. That it is ok to ask questions. That reading a book isn’t just about regurgitating the plot, that it is about experiencing a new world. That collaboration is about communication. That learning is fun.
While I may not have shared all of that with the incoming class of masters students, I hope that I gave them hope. Hope for the field, hope for their new career, and hope in themselves.