Monday, August 29, 2011

Top Ten

I survived. One week ago I started as a new teacher, with a real room and a full schedule of bright-eyed 9th graders. Everyone kept asking me if I was nervous. I wasn't. Everyone kept asking me if I was ready. I wasn't. So sixes, I guess.

Often in my Teacher Ed classes they would say "you'll learn more your first day of teaching than most of your BYU career." Fact. Imagine what I've learned in one week. Well you don't have to imagine. I've summed it up concisely for you here.

What They Don't Tell You About Teaching

10. How naturally teaching comes. You really don't have a choice but to get up there and teach. I know I am blessed and it isn't as natural for some people. But generally speaking, its an absolute necessity. You simply HAVE to be prepared. You simply HAVE to employ some classroom management. You'd die otherwise. And I haven't yet.
9. Over 80% of my job is being able to successfully multi-task. You guys know how I feel about that.
8. How quickly the day rushes by. I'm there frantically making copies. Then first period starts. Suddenly it's lunch. I blink again and it's flex time. I take a breath and the kids are all gone. It's insane. I love the fast pace.
7. How much time teachers spend each day. Not enormously surprising. Everyone in the universe knows teachers are overworked and underpaid. But its very different to be on the teaching end of that. Especially as an intern. I'm doing the full amount of work (more even, because I'm a first year and doing a lot from scratch) for half the pay. I consider myself lucky. But even I can't believe I'm showing up at 7:15 a.m. and getting home at 5:30 p.m. or later consistently. Good thing I love this, right?
6. Being mean is such a good idea. In the same way that a girl loves a guy who treats her badly, students don't hate you when you're mean. It kind of drives them to win your respect and love even more. Plus discipline problems diminish steadily.
5. Teachers love to steal and be stolen from. I love that I can walk into a classroom, steal someone's idea and they commend me for it. Encourage it, even. It's fantastic.
4. There are no such kids as "bad kids." Ok. They kind of teach you that. But you don't realize it until you have the opportunity to watch and get to know some of your problem kids. Even over the course of one week I've gotten to know one kid that hates trying. And he's delightful! I see it as a fun challenge.
3. Teachers see everything. Oh, you think you're a sneaky texter? You aren't. Oh, you think I can't see you making lovey-dovey eyes at your boyfriend? Well, I can. And gross. HEY TEENAGERS. I GET IT. YOU ARE CHAMPION EYE-ROLLERS. Guess what? Me too. [rolls eyes]
2. How little teaching you actually get to do. So much of my time is spent in preparation, giving instructions, grading stuff, answering random questions and babysitting. In a 45 minute class I generally get around 20 minutes of instruction if I want them to get some independent practice (which you almost always do). That's disheartening and relieving at the same time.
1. How much fun it is. For reals, you guys. All day I smile and laugh. The kids, teachers, staff, everything is just so fun and hilarious. It's so comforting to me that I enjoy it so much. I know I made the right decision and I'm going to love this for the rest of my life. I'll work as hard as I can to not become a grumbling, cynical teacher. Because I believe that isn't inevitable. The noble profession of teaching can be just as fun and exciting 10 years from now as it has been this week.

I'm just glad I have the chance.


  1. this is so awesome! i envy you in a way. you're what, 21? and already into the career of your choice? that basically rules. i can't believe it! you're probably the coolest teacher those kids will ever have! plus also. i miss you guys. bandits night?

  2. I love this!! It's always nice to hear from another teacher that's just starting out. You sound like you are doing so well... I knew you would!

  3. I loved this post. I was a teacher for 17 years, before I made a career change. Now I'm retired, but you brought back some great memories! I just might have to follow you!