Dear New Teacher Grad,
Wow, what a world you have graduated into! When you began your last semester of college I am willing to bet this is not what you had in mind. I am absolutely positive you were looking forward to student teaching. You were probably just hitting your groove of total teach in the classroom when our world began to change.
There are some things you should know as you prepare to enter the school world, teacher grad.
First, this is new for all of us. First-year teachers and veterans alike were thrown into this distance thing at the same time. Some were better prepared as they had been using tools like Google Classroom and Seesaw within the classroom, but this isn’t the case for the vast majority. For most, this was brand new and frankly scary.
I am not currently in the classroom, but I have also been frantically working to support teachers in these new roles. With teachers’ changing needs my focus changes also and it took a real shift to make that happen. I don’t say this as boohoo, poor me, but simply to illustrate the change for all of us.
Second, it is okay to mourn the change. You likely missed out on a lot of the traditional last semester of college and student teaching experiences. You have every right to be sad, as I know I would be.
Instead, you were witness to one of the greatest educational shifts of all time. You were able to see, first-hand, how resilient and resourceful teachers are. With little to no notice teachers all over the world took nothing and turned it into something. Was it perfect? Certainly not, but I would venture to say it was immensely better than doing nothing at all. I would also say there are very few professions that can pivot on a dime as educators can.
Educators are innovators and experts in their field. During this time some have come to appreciate us more than ever.
Next, please know that no one knows what the next school year is going to look like. Some have ventured to say it will be full of distance learning, while others propose staggered starts and alternating days for students to attend in-person learning. No matter what comes of it, it will be a new experience. It will be new for all of us.
Even now, when I would normally be delivering summer professional development to rooms full of teachers I am instead working on how to lead engaging PD through Zoom. It is a challenge for sure, but one I am thrilled to take on, because I know I will learn things that will allow me to further help teachers connect with their students using the same technology.
What I want for you more than anything is success. Being successful in the classroom is all about your students and their well being. I hope that you will keep this in mind. Academics are important, but social-emotional learning and awareness are paramount. After this spring, and summer, we are going to have students who feel the trauma of the events and we must be there for them.
For some students, school is their safe place and they will be thrilled to be back, but worried about schools closing again. Other students may have thrived with distance learning, and being back in a classroom may be the last thing they want. The spectrum will run wide as to students’ feelings and thoughts on school. Our job is to meet each and everyone where they are and support them the best we know how whether that be through distance learning or more traditional means.
Finally, I want you to know you are not alone. There will be times when you feel lost and afraid of doing the wrong thing. Reach out. Reach out to your coworkers, your friends, your favorite teacher on social media, and by all means me. I will be there to help you with anything I can.
None of us are perfect and this new challenge will test our strength, but I believe we will fight through it together and come out the other side astonished by our abilities.
From the Fast Lane,
P.S. For those of you teacher grads who are job hunting, don’t give up. Things look a lot different right now, but there are still jobs out there. Brush up on our interview skills, check out this post for some tips, and keep your head up. There is a lot of uncertainty and positions that are likely to become available right before, and even after the school year starts. Keep an open mind, and explore all your possibilities.
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