Confessions of a First Year Teacher


CC Image by Wikimedia

One year ago when I was initially hired as a 7th grade Language Arts teacher, I was elated. After spending four years to train and prepare, the time had finally come to put my learning into action. No longer would I talk about my “future” students. I was going to get real, live students! I was going to be a teacher! Fresh out of college and fresh into the workforce, I was beyond ready to start my new career.

However, it seemed like every educator and educator’s mother and educator’s neighbor’s sister-in-law were extremely eager to tell me what I should expect my first year of teaching:

“The first year of teaching is hard.”

“You can’t get it right the first time because the first year is just so hard.”

“The first year is trying. It’s difficult. Hang in there, pal!”

All of the variations of “the first year teaching is hard” that I heard were laughable. Okay, okay, I thought. I get it.

At the beginning of my first year I was determined to change that narrative. I convinced myself that I would not drown or tread water my first year. I would be nailing the backstroke and doing back flips off the diving board instead. My kids would learn how to read and write all while loving learning.

This isn’t a story about how I proved everyone wrong. It’s not a dialogue about how American school systems need an overhaul. And it surely isn’t that typical first year teacher “it was difficult” line that has been regurgitate again and again. What I’m presenting you with are stories and lessons that others haven’t shared. The confessions I have about this wild year are unfiltered, honest nuggets of what it truly feels like to be a first year teacher. 

Of course my first year was difficult; I didn’t get everything right. But there’s so much more to the story. I’m not going to paint a beautiful yet unrealistic picture of teaching, but I’m not going to sugar-coat what happened throughout the year (spoiler alert: I do not hold hands with the students and sing Kumbaya). I’m not trying to deter anyone from entering the teaching profession nor am I attempting to encourage anyone to enroll in the closest teacher education program asap. I’m just going to be honest about my experience teaching in a public school over the last nine months. 

A mixture of the negative and positive, life-changing and very basic experiences, the confessions I will be sharing highlight the convoluted and complicated profession of a teacher. My confessions are what they are. While some may inspire, others should not be read on a bad day. These remarks begin a series of true confessions as I near the end of my first year teaching weird, hormonal, and unpredictable 12-year-olds. Let the good times roll.