Dear Future Teacher,… Love, Ms. Cecilia (Part I)
Dear Future Teacher,
First, know where your Expo markers are. Really. That’s honestly the first 35% of teaching. Always know where your Expo markers are. It’s really best if you have a place to put them consistently in your classroom. I mean, it’s really best if you’re an organized person.
I, as you might imagine, am not such a person.
Teaching will literally change you in ways that you could not imagine. You will become more organized. You will become more confident. You will start to check for understanding — in normal conversations with your friends, pausing after every bit of information and asking a question. You will start to talk to your friends non-stop about the funny stories from your kids (Just going to tell you right now — you better hope you are lovable. Because your friends may feel like they are vicariously teaching because of the amount of student stories they will hear).
Gosh, I hope I’m lovable. Anyway.
But really, teaching will change you. You will see the effects of education inequity everywhere. You will embrace the idea that there are so many battles that you cannot win, but you will fight anyway. You will become stronger. Teaching gives you that kind of strength.
I was a math major; I thought that I would never be challenged again like the way that the proof 0x = 0 confronted me in my first week of college. (Three hours, by the way. Much chalk. Much sweat. Some tears). But math proofs have a conclusion — well, if you’re lucky. Education doesn’t, luck or not. Teaching will challenge you over, and over, and over again, and you will change.
I can be a pretty loud Enneagram Seven, and I thought I was confident, but when the first teenagers were rude to me and didn’t follow expectations in the classroom (what! Teenagers? Rude?), I sometimes ignored things at first because I was not confident in my ability to lead a classroom. In one of my classes, the classroom got pretty loud (but not in the loud productive way, more like the kids-are-on-task-mostly-but-also-just-spilling-the-ample-tea louder) at the beginning of the year, a class period that some kids said that it was hard to think in because there were so many kids talking. Title I schools are not often kind to your class sizes — in the class that kids said it was hard to think in, I had 28 kids and five of the loudest students in the grade. When you embrace your authority as a teacher and firmly call the class to order, your students will actually listen to you. They want to be able to think.
Well, that’s it for now. I have so much more to say, but I will keep writing and thinking.
You are strong, and you will be amazing.