Back to Basics: Rewinding and Relearning

Since I’m home with my daughter this summer, I’ve decided to make it my mission to teach her how to read. We’ve always kept a text-rich environment in our home, and recently, she has been showing me signs that she’s ready. So for the past two days, we’ve been doing “school”–setting aside about 20 minutes to work on the basics.

Primary education is not my forte. I do NOT do well with other people’s small children, and I thrive more in an environment where I am just as intellectually challenged as my students. But lately, I’ve been considering the possibility of homeschooling my daughter, and I thought teaching her to read would be a nice little indicator if this is something she and I can do successfully together.

It’s funny. Working with a three year old, I realize in some ways, I do not have strength in some of the skills needed to be that rockstar teacher for her. On the other hand, I feel like teaching secondary last year is helping me in ways I wouldn’t have realized.

Teaching her to read is kind of like coming full circle–going back to the beginning, where my love of literature started, and hoping that passion transfers to her. And this whole process has made me look at teaching in a new light. It’s refreshing, and it reminds me of some of the things I think it’s easy to forget.


Individualizing Instruction Makes All the Difference

J. is three. This means she has a short attention span, boundless energy, and endless curiosity. I have to switch gears pretty quickly to keep her engaged, involve technology, and practice patience as she wriggles and moves during one of our lessons.

We all know that every kid doesn’t learn the same. And with a system created during the industrial revolution, we know that many of our students are not in an environment that is conducive to optimal learning. As class sizes grow and teachers fall under more strain, it’s difficult to keep up with everything we have to do. But there are few things that can compete with individualizing instruction for our students. Obviously, we cannot create a custom learning plan for every student that comes through our classroom. It’s just not possible. But we can incorporate strategies that focus on choice and self-directed learning, through which we can help guide our students so that they receive the best education we have to offer.

Adaptability is Key

I can try to plan a lesson. I can script what I’ll say, do hours of research, and create amazing activities. But all of that means squat if I can’t be adaptable. We all know that with toddlers, you must be able to shift gears quickly, but the same goes for the seniors I taught last year.

Yes, do the research, write your script, go crazy with adorable supplies you found at your local craft store, and create those truly incredible activities. All of these things are important, and I’m a firm believer in approaching teaching in a way that makes you feel energized and excited. BUT none of those things take into account the fact that our students are human. That they wriggle, fall asleep, have angry outbursts, will not (for the love of all that is holy) quit trying to sneak in time on their phones, and ask questions we could never in a million years anticipate.

It doesn’t matter how many hours you put in. At the end of it all, if you can’t roll with the punches and adapt to the needs of your students, you are not going to be able to reach them.

Students Know When You Care

Are you excited about your subject? Do you radiate enthusiasm in your classroom? Or have you lost sight of why you began teaching in the first place and dread going to work?

Students can tell. No matter what society may tell us, students are intuitive. They know when you’re there for them versus when you don’t even know why you’re there anymore. They know if you care about them and their learning. They know if you love (or hate) what you teach.

If they don’t like you, kids aren’t going to work for you. That’s the truth. And if they know you don’t care, then they’re definitely not going to. Your energy in the classroom is infectious, and students are going to give back what you put in.

Sometimes, we have to forget the standards, forget the obligations, forget the mountains of stress and just show up for our kids. At the end of the day, if my students have learned something from me, even if it doesn’t fall under a state mandated standard, I feel I have accomplished something. We spend more time with our students than anyone else. We have more influence than we realize. So when we show that we care about what they’re learning and if they’re learning it, we can make a difference.


The tips listed above may seem obvious to you. At first, I wondered if they were even worth writing down for you all. But I think in the midst of everything educators have to worry about, we sometimes forget even the most basic things. We fall down that dark hole of obligation, crushed by the expectations heaped on us by the state, by our communities, by our colleagues.

I’m hear to tell you that when you feel lost or overwhelmed, take it back to the basics. Remember why you stepped into the classroom. Remember your mission. Because in the end, we are there for our kids, and they are what’s important.

–Chéylyn

Teaching writing starts with teachers writing

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

If you tell your students what to say and how to say it, you may never hear them, only the pale echoes of what they imagine you want them to be. ~Donald Murray

In the last several years, I have been challenged (in the best possible way) to get out there and write by one of my teaching idols, Amy Rasmussen, of the Three Teachers Talk Blog. In her professional development sessions at TCTELA, she has challenged her attendees with this question, “How many of you consider yourselves writers?” That first year, I lowered my hand. She followed up with, “How can we truly appreciate the difficulty our students face when we don’t struggle through writing?”

**Insert knife in heart**

Before that moment, I would bring my carefully-crafted piece of writing, complete with its correct spelling and punctuation and strong introduction. Something I spent hours creating, laid in front of students in a quick flash. It was left to them to assume the creative process I went through to get that piece of writing on the document camera in front of them. Since I was an English teacher, surely it was easier for me than it was for them.

Amy was right. I had robbed my students of the opportunity to see the struggle that comes with writing. That it took me HOURS to get the words on the page to be “just right.” That I had to use an electronic thesaurus to come up with more precise wording. That I wrote one sentence twelve times before I liked the way it sounded.

Writing is freaking HARD! And we cannot teach our students to write effectively if we haven’t gone through that struggle ourselves.

So, I had to change. I started writing in front of my students. I modeled the vulnerability I wanted to see in them. I let them watch as I failed (sometimes miserably) to pull the best words from my brain, to spell words correctly, to begin and end a piece of writing powerfully. I let them help me try and try and try again. In conjunction with this process, I began implementing Writers Workshop. I watched students as they began to blossom in their own writing. Through workshop, they began to raise their voice through writing. Through the workshop approach, I became an English teacher.

Since moving into teacher leadership, I try to be a disciple of Amy’s message with the teachers I work with, particularly when it comes to teaching writing. This week, I got to spend two days of professional development working with my beloved secondary English teachers discussing literacy practices that last. We spent ample time participating in authentic reading and writing practices, approaching the training as students of literacy rather than teachers. In one particular activity in which I did a model lesson for integrated reading and writing, I asked teachers to read two texts related to loving one’s heritage and beauty. I have included the lesson sequence below:

In the writing phase, we explored madman writing discussed in Betty S. Flowers article, Madman, Architect, Carpenter, Judge: Roles and the Writing Process. According to Flowers, there are four personas a person should adopt when writing. The madman is the initial phase when a person lays a gush of language on the page with no outside voices governing the words and flow of the piece of writing. The architect looks at the writing and selects large chunks of writing to arrange them in a pattern. The carpenter nails ideas together in a logical sequence, making sure each sentence is clearly written, creating a flow of one sentence to the next. The judge comes back to inspect for punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc. Sometimes, the judge tries to come in during madman writing. When the judge enters, imagine the voice of a grouchy English teacher saying, “You need a comma there!” In our writing activity, we practiced shushing the judge until it was her turn during the final look at the piece of writing.

I loved watching the teachers rapidly laying words on a page in any structure of their choosing. I saw them think and write and think and write and cross out and write. I saw them as their judge began to creep in, and they shook her away. Some had a hard time shushing their judge. (I can fully connect with these individuals as I find it very hard to turn my judge judge off as well.) As we shared our drafts with a shoulder partner, I saw them shyly give an introduction to their writing but not before giving a disclaimer about how rough a draft it really is. I saw myself in them, afraid to let other English teachers see weakness. Feeling very much like my students when I ask them to put their writing into the world. But, at my request, they bravely shared parts of themselves with others in the room, gifting another with a piece of their souls.

And because of their bravery, I was able to newly meet teachers I’ve known for years. Because of their bravery, students can feel like equal partners in their writing journey, rather than pupils to a master. Because of their bravery, we have the gift of words.

Thank you to Sue and Katy for allowing me to publish your drafts!

Poem by Sue Penry

Poem by Katy Wheeler

Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.

~Tom Stoppard

–Bridget

Guest Post: Remind

The students left school on Thursday.  They physically removed themselves from my room, but the reminders of their presence still hang on my walls and clutter my bookshelves.  

Friday was a teacher work day. I cleaned out paper and digital files; I organized and deleted, but the reminders of the student presence was still there.  I saved key samples of work and archived Google Classroom assignments. I said goodbye to a principal and joined my department in presenting him signed mementos of our Major League efforts under his coaching and supervision.

I woke up on Saturday morning trying to remind myself that it was my first day of summer vacation, but I really didn’t have that feeling until I woke up on Monday. As my eleven-year-old daughter slept late, I snuck in a few Netflix shows I can’t watch when she’s around and tried to remember all of the errands and plans I had, not only for that day, but for the whole summer. There were many things on that list—everything from self-care to planning for the next school year. But first thing was going to the school to prep for this summer’s professional development.

I looked forward and I looked back.  As I recalled and reflected upon what went well last year, a myriad of student faces populated the walls of my memories.  Then, *Ding* I got a Remind.com text (an app that so many people still call  Remind 101) from a parent about her son.  I answered her question, but then decided it was time to clean out this account.  

So, I have since learned the recommendations to archive classes and reuse favorite codes (https://www.remind.com/blog/class-cleanup), but, yesterday, I just went through and clicked on each connection, then clicked “Remove From Class.”

I was not prepared for how much it broke my heart each time I severed that tie.  The act of willfully letting go, then the emotional impact of each deletion needed to be put to words as my core being strove to find meaning and process these reactions.

What metaphor could I choose?  This feeling reminded me of the old practice of marking people out of an address book once they mysteriously moved with no forwarding information or the modern practice of unfriending someone on social media.  My former students, their parents/guardians, and I no longer have that seemingly instant and direct way to communicate.

As I contemplated metaphors, I found an interesting resource that I want to remember to order:

And just like that…as I sit here and read excerpts from this resource, my melancholy takes flight.  The raven is no longer pecking at my heart. An owl has swooped in….a Hedwig of inspiration, giving me hope and perspective out of these clouds and tears, guides me towards the adventures that my next school year holds.  

Through the effort of trying to remember words to express my grieving for the connections that are done, I have found mentor texts and examples for next year’s lessons.  

The lesson cycle has moved past closure to the rest that separates it from the next engagement.  

The sun is a daily reminder that we too can rise again from the darkness, that we too can shine our own light.

Sara Ajna

Katy Wheeler is looking forward to her 12th year as a public school teacher.  She has wanted to teach as long as she can remember. Her educational philosophy incorporates the following ideas:

Education must be holistic and comprehensive in its approach. Education must be ongoing and progressive. Education must be student-centered.

Whether it’s teaching public school, private school, university level, or overseas, Mrs. Wheeler tries to always focus on doing what will help her students find success.  


When the students are gone…

The end of the year is finally here.

I can tell you, this has been quite the interesting introduction to teaching. I can also tell you that there were days when it felt like the end could not come fast enough. I’ve written to you guys about the dread I felt on day 1 at the idea of facing the 179 subsequent days that would follow. But I made it. I survived year one.

Today is the last day of school, and it’s bittersweet. Since five out of my six classes were seniors, tonight’s graduation marks the last time I will see many of these faces. For them, it’s a beginning–there is so much that they have to look forward to, so many parts of their lives waiting to unfold before them. I admire the potential that lies stretched in front of those young adults. They face a future of possibility. I could not be more happy for them.

Over the course of this year, I’ve come to know many of these kids. I can tell you that there are some I will be glad to see go. I can tell you there are some I am sad to see leave. And I can honestly say that they have all made an impact in my life.

You see, I’ve learned a lot this year. I would argue I learned more from them than they learned from me. They reminded me what it is to be a teenager. They showed me that people will surprise you when you let them. And they prepared me for next year so that I have some inkling of what’s to come.

In honor of my first students, at the end of this, my first year of teaching, I wanted to take a moment to express gratitude for all the lessons learned in my classroom this year, both by my students and myself.

Congratulations, Class of 2019. Now go out and change the world!

—Cheylyn

#summergoals: Self Care Through Goal Setting

Photo by Riccardo Bresciani on Pexels.com

I cannot tell you how ready I am for summer.

The past few weeks have been rough. Our district is going through a lot of changes right now, and because of this transition period, many of us have been under a lot of strain. Because of this, the end of the year just cannot come fast enough. At this point, I don’t know who is more excited for the break…me or my seniors.

As I prepare for the summer months ahead, there are two things on my mind. One is all of the books I’m going to be able to read. And the other is just having time to spend with my kiddo and take care of myself.

For me, self care is one of the first things that goes out the window when I’m stressed. Why? Because for some reason, I’ve decided I’m the lowest priority on my list. Which I recognize is unhealthy. I also recognize I’m not the only one that does this. Educators, and women especially, tend to throw their all into what the people around them need, and by the time we get to ourselves, we just don’t have the energy to do anything other than zone out in front of the television, binge watching Game of Thrones while shoveling popcorn into our faces.

So, I’m sharing my list of a few things I plan on implementing this summer that I hope will become habits by the time next year starts. That way, self care is embedded in my routine, and will no longer feel like something extra that is taking time away from my obligations. By setting these habits up during the summer, when I have the time to devote attention to them, I am giving myself the space to see what works and what doesn’t, and how I can incorporate them into a busy schedule.


Meal Prep

You know the old saying, “You are what you eat?” Well, friends, when I eat like crap, I feel like crap. And, with the convenience of fast food and a lack of time in the morning (because of that always enticing snooze button), I eat out way too much.

My plan this summer is to put together a menu of affordable, healthy, easy-to-assemble meals that I can prep on Sundays for the week ahead. I do so much better when I have something in the fridge that I can just grab and go, so when I began thinking of the ways I can start taking care of myself, meal prep immediately came to mind.

Update My Wardrobe

I came into this profession after two years of being a stay at home mom, so much of my closet was taken up with yoga pants, t-shirts, and sports bras. Not exactly professional. I bought a few necessities at the outset, but overall, I just haven’t been in love with my work clothes. And this bugs me.

So this summer, my goal is to stock up little by little, finding those key pieces I can’t live without, inspired by the pins I have socked away on Pinterest over the course of the past year. If you’ve read my “Ethical Fashion on a Budget” post, you know I love a good thrift store, but I’m also thinking about trying Stitch Fix, which has some ethical brands available and delivers right to your door. If I try them out, I’ll be sure to leave a review, in case any of our followers are interested 🙂

Hair Care

My poor hair is one of the first things to suffer when I’m crunched for time. I am the queen of the bun, and while I doubt that will change (I can’t stand my hair in my face) I’m making an effort to be more aware of the damage I’m doing to my hair.

A couple of things I hope to implement in my quest for healthier hair:

  • I’ve heard really good things about Sugar Bear vitamins, and I’m hoping to add them to my beauty routine this summer.
  • And, I would like to reincorporate a weekly hair mask, which I’ve used in the past and had great results with.

My advice is to do research, find what’s best for your hair type, and begin taking care of those locks! Because if you’re anything like me, when my hair feels good, I feel good!

Reinvest Time in my Hobbies

My extra time goes toward cleaning my house and spending time with my family. Which means other things fall by the wayside.

Outside of this blog, I’ve barely written since the beginning of the school year. I have so many books on my to-read list, it’s insane. And there is a brand new pack of watercolor paints sitting unopened at home, along with an unmarred sketchbook.

These are things that I use for my own personal fulfillment. I’m a cerebral person, and when I’m not engaged in activities that challenge me or make me think, I find myself feeling unfulfilled. So this summer, I’m taking back my hobby time! Look out world!

J.’s Time is Sacred Time

I pick J. up from daycare and drive home. We get home, get a snack, and the television is turned on. She alternately runs around, eats, and watches television until bath time. Then it’s off to bed. This is our routine. Every day. Then weekends are spent running errands, cleaning, and relaxing before returning to the grind.

One of the first things to go when I went back to work was playtime with J. Before, our television was on for a very small fraction of the time. We played, we learned, we spent quality time. Now, I’m just focused on keeping her alive and relatively healthy, all while trying to stay sane.

This may seem an odd goal for a self care article, but feeling good in my role as mother is essential to my well being. Am I saying I have to be a perfect mom to be fulfilled as a woman? Absolutely not. There is no such thing as a perfect mother. But, when I feel off with J. I feel off in life. And I’m not happy with the fact that I rarely play with my daughter anymore. So, one of my goals this summer is to set everything aside, even if it’s only 30 minutes a day, and play with my baby girl.


As educators, we have so much on our plates. We have state standards, high stakes testing, grades, lesson plans. We have the well-being of hundreds of kids who are not our own resting on our shoulders. We have our own kids. Our own lives…We have A LOT. And in all of this madness, we often push ourselves to the side.

At the end of the day, you have to make yourself a priority. And with the long days of summer fast approaching, now is the perfect time to focus on yourself. Set goals that focus on getting back on track. That help you to recharge and reboot before another school year begins. Take advantage of this time to feel good about yourself. Because you deserve it.

–Chéylyn

Teacher, you’re my hero.

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This is one of my favorite weeks as an educator (despite it also being testing week for high school.) It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! A time when administrators and students and parents take time from their busy schedules to show love to my favorite people in the world–teachers. For one week, you are showered with words and cards and gifts, reflecting the work you’ve been doing all year. I know this job can sometimes be difficult and–more often than not–thankless, but that’s okay. Because you don’t do it for the “thanks.” And heaven knows, you certainly don’t do it for the money.

You do it for the kids.

You teach to inspire our youth and open their minds to new learning and growth. Daily, you give them mirrors, you give them windows, and you give them doors. For that, we are incredibly thankful.

This week, I asked my students to write one card to a teacher that has impacted them. And what I noticed was awesome. Students couldn’t write just one card. They came to me over and over again to get another card for another teacher…and another…and another. They asked me if they could write to teachers they had in younger grades too. It was immediately evident that teachers’ impacts lasted far beyond a single year or campus. I watched as thank you notes piled on my desk, thanking teachers for loving them when it seemed like no one else did, praising teachers for always going above and beyond for them. Not once on those cards did I see, “Thanks for teaching me math.” And nowhere did a kid say, “Thanks for teaching me English.” No. Every card revealed the real impact of teachers. Not their ability to teach the subject, but their ability to teach the student. That’s all our kiddos need from us, really. Connection. They want to know that we value them, that we see them, that we love them.

So teachers, thank you for that.

Thank you for coming early and staying late and spending your much-needed summer vacation in professional development to ensure our students have the tools they need for success.

Thank you for learning everything you can about basketball or robots or dinosaurs or hog dogs or the Vampire Diaries because you know your kiddos enjoy those things.

Thank you for giving up hours with your own family to dedicate yourself to someone else’s kid.

Thank you for smiling when you want to cry.

Thank you for reflecting on your lessons so you can be better for next year’s students…. and the next year’s.

Thank you for listening to students who have never been able to share their voice before.

Thank you for keeping drawers of snacks and food because you know some will not eat after 3:30.

Thank you for cleaning up messes you didn’t make because you want that lesson to be more memorable than any other.

Thank you for keeping a closet of hygiene products in case a student didn’t have running water that morning…or that year.

Thank you for covering for your teaching sister so she could go to her child’s school program.

Thank you for listening to parents as their anger at the world sometimes lands on your shoulders.

Thank you for sitting in the stands and cheering on your students as they succeed on the field, especially when their own families couldn’t make it.

Thank you for comforting a group of students after losing a classmate in an extremely tragic way.

Thank you for keeping a box of pencils (that you have to refill every semester) because some students are more worried about how they will sleep with all the fighting in their home than how they will write at school.

Thank you for sharing in your student’s pain as they relive the death of a loved one.

Thank you for spending your hard-earned money so that your students could have new books or candy or incentives.

Thank you for going above and beyond your contract duties and hours to make sure your students are ready for the next day…. year….life.

Thank you for the tears you’ve shed over the joys and pains of teaching.

Thank you for the worry you carry as students leave you for summer.

Thank you for doing what’s right instead of what is popular.

Thank you for loving the lovable and the unlovable.

Thank you for being someone’s hero.

–Bridget

First Year Teacher? I’m talking to you.

Before starting year one, I see-sawed back and forth on the idea of becoming an educator. On the one hand, I loved the idea of having a job where I could make a true difference. Where I could change someone’s life through education. I know this sounds idealistic, but I relished the opportunity to have a space to affect change, no matter how small, rather than working in a mindless 9-5.

On the other hand, I spent a semester of grad school teaching developmental English to college freshmen and I hated it. Of course, I spent half the semester displaced with no classroom, working another part time job and writing my thesis. I had a 30 minute commute to the university, one way. I was stressed to the max and had no time to prepare my lessons. All of this could have contributed to my distaste for the profession, but just in case I loathed it for another reason, I teetered on the brink of decision. For a long time, when people asked me if I was getting a degree in English so that I could teach, I rebelled against the idea.

There are several events that finally led to my stepping into the classroom. I won’t bore you with them, but they spurred me into a desperate action that resulted in obtaining my teaching certification.

I walked in on my first day as an idealistic dreamer . I thought I had a relatively accurate view of young adults and what we could accomplish in class, but after that first week…nay, that first day…I knew I had been viewing everything through rose colored glasses.

I came home after my first day knowing that I had made a mistake. I knew it to my core. I counted the days left in my head, and the distance between that first day and the end of the year seemed insurmountable.

Then I got to know my kids. I realized teaching was something I was a natural at. I readjusted my expectations and had small successes. I grew comfortable in my role as educator.

That’s not to say that this year has been perfect. My first novel unit was a disaster. The end of my first semester left me seething as students railed against the grades I was giving them, even though those grades were justified. I had a come-to-Jesus meeting with my seventh period that left me shaking. I can count on one hand the number of times I have stood in front of the classroom for the last eight weeks. I have graded with more grace than I probably should have, trying to compensate for my own lack of knowledge, despite knowing that this is crippling my students.

I say all of this because there is one thing I’ve noticed about life. People tend to sugarcoat their experiences, highlighting only the good and leaving out the bad. Or they sit in their misery and refuse to acknowledge all of the positive things that have come out of their situation.

I experienced this after having my first baby, blood boiling because no one told me all of the hardships that come along with adding a new member to your family (outside of the obvious demands of a newborn). I experienced it when I began taking care of my body, with friends who tried to guilt me because they couldn’t (wouldn’t) carve out time in their own lives to do the same. And I experienced it when I went through my teacher training program, trained to deal with a perfect world scenario rather than reality.

People rarely give you the whole picture, and it’s frustrating.

Year one has been a mix of good and bad. I have had moments of euphoria and I have had days that have left me in tears. I have reached some students while some will always have that brick wall I can’t break through. I have sparked creativity in some, while others could not think out of the box. I have been thanked for being considerate, while others critique me no matter how far I bend.

Teaching is not perfect. Teaching is hard, because we deal with hormonal human beings on a daily basis and that creates an environment of unpredictability. Teaching means choosing between family time and grading, taking a lunch or planning a lesson. Teaching means getting thrown into subsequent roles you aren’t qualified/prepared for, and having to figure it out. Teaching is having to cover for a coworker, when you really need that conference period to work.

Teaching also means inspiring students. Teaching means saying the right thing to the right person and watching their eyes light up. Teaching means showing your passion for your subject so that your students can see something they hadn’t realized was there. Teaching means preparing students for the next phase in their lives. Teaching means making a difference in a system that seems to suffocate your efforts.

To any first year teacher who may be reading this, I want you to know that I see your struggle. And I have some advice for you.

Know your kids

Know that your kids are human. They have problems at home, they’re over-committed to extra-curricular activities, they work at least one job, they haven’t always had consistency in their education. They are just as tired and stressed out as we are.

Does this mean we should allow excuses? No. But I do think that students appreciate it when we recognize that our class isn’t their only commitment. Respect their schedules. Respect them as people. Bend when necessary and remain firm when they need it.

Don’t over-commit

You are going to feel like you’re drowning this year. Between navigating a new profession, planning lessons, grading assignments, and just trying to maintain a hold on your sanity, you are going to have a lot to juggle. Respect your limitations.

If you let people abuse your willingness to please, you are going to end up overworked and burning out by year three. So say yes to the things you feel you can’t live without, and politely decline the rest.

Leave it on your desk

There are going to be times you have to grade at home. That’s inevitable. There are times when you have to plan a last minute lesson. As educators, we can’t always leave work at work. As an English teacher, this seems to be even harder to do. After all, we are told students should be writing every day, right?

But if you’re getting to school at six and working until eight every day? Take a step back. If you are wasting your weekends grading? Stop it. Talk to your team, or send a message/Tweet out to your PLN and get some advice on strategies you can adopt to lessen your workload. Find what works for you.

Leave it on your desk. This is, at the end of the day, just a job.

You don’t have to take all of the advice given to you

Some of the advice I’ve been given this year by veteran teachers has been fantastic. My team has helped me so much, and I know I can always go to them for help when I have a problem.

But.

Some of their advice has just not worked for me. I tried implementing strategies during my first week that felt foreign and counter-intuitive. And you know what? I dropped those strategies early on because they weren’t working. They were tailored for personalities drastically different from my own, and I couldn’t bring myself to consistently implement them. And that’s okay.

You don’t have to follow all of the advice you have received. Find what works for you and stay with it. But if it doesn’t work? Drop it and find something that does.

Show your students how to fail gracefully

Guess what. You’re going to fail at something during your first year. It might be one something. It might be multiple somethings. But you. will. fail.

During that first semester, I had housekeeping meetings fairly regularly. I would tell my students if something wasn’t working and we needed to fix it. I would recognize my own mistakes.

I would admit that I was human.

I created a dialogue about our learning and showed them that education is messy. I showed them I wasn’t afraid to mess up. I showed them I could also succeed. And my biggest hope is that they absorbed some of those lessons, so that they won’t be afraid of failure in their own lives.


Wow, this post is long. I just scrolled back through and realized there are A LOT of words here. But I wanted to speak on this subject because I felt that I couldn’t find anyone being real about teaching as I was coming in to the profession. So I wanted to give you my thoughts, share what I’ve learned, and to tell you this:

This is going to be hard. You’re either going to love it or hate it. You will fail, and you will shine. But at the end of the day, your job is about the kids in your room who need someone to believe in them, someone to push them. And you need to believe in yourself. You can do this. When you feel like you can’t, reevaluate. Be honest with yourself. And if you need a friend to talk you through, send me your thoughts and I’ll be that person. Don’t be afraid to fail, but don’t be afraid to succeed either. You got this.