By: Jeni Gearhart
Dear Teacher on the First Day of School,
Deep breath, this is going to be good. You were born for this.
To the brand-new teacher on your very first day, you can do this.
To the seasoned teacher on your 10th, 25th, or 30th first day, you can do this.
To the burnt-out teacher who barely made it to May last year, you can do this.
To the new mom trying to figure out how to be both Supermom and Rockstar Teacher, you can do this.
To all of us as we pack our lunchboxes and brush the dust off our teacher shoes, we’ve got this.
Every year is different. Every kid is different. The standards change, the tests change, the expectations change—but the heart of this job is the same. The reasons why we got up at 5 AM this morning are sitting in the desks in front of you. The kids matter more than anything else.
Remember the kid who said last year “Miss, this is the first book I’ve liked since 5th grade. Do you got any more like that?”
Remember when that same kid started begging for a few extra minutes of reading time because he needed to find out how the chapter ended.
Remember the kid who wrote the beautiful essay that made you cry—that was the kid who could not write in paragraphs in September.
Remember the kid who calls you “mom” and says it intentionally.
Remember the kid who broke your heart when you found out that he had been abused for years.
Remember the kid who stopped showing up to your class because she was transferred when she was finally moved to a safer home.
Remember why you are here.
To the new teacher, you are probably feeling a rollercoaster of emotions right now.
Last week, you thought you were completely ready to walk into that classroom and solve all of the problems of education. This morning you felt so nauseous you couldn’t eat breakfast and you cried on the way home. Don’t worry. That’s normal. And you will probably feel that every year.
New teacher, these next words are for you. You have signed up for one of the hardest jobs in the world, but you are going to be great. You are not, however, going to be perfect. You are going to mess up hundreds of times this year. That’s ok. Learn from your mistakes, try new things, and ask for advice.
To the seasoned teacher, remember why you entered this profession. Look through that box of thank you notes from past students. Try something new this year. Remember your excitement when you first started. Find that again. Encourage new teachers. They need you.
To the teacher who barely made it to May last year, take care of yourself this year. Find people who give you joy. Read a book or two for you this year, bake some cookies this weekend, or get back in the habit of going to the gym. It is okay that last year wasn’t perfect. This year is a new year. You’ll be great.
To the new mom struggling to figure out a new balance, you can do it. You don’t have to be perfect in either job to still make an impact. Your family knows you love them, and your students do too. Be present.
Teacher, you matter.
This job weighs on our souls. The essays come home with us every night, and the burdens of our students come home too.
Remember the stories of triumph. Remember that for every kid who you can’t reach, there are 15 who will remember your name forever.
Politicians don’t get it, and often the higher ups have forgotten what it is to be in the trenches. Don’t let that keep you from trying to do the impossible.
Teacher, you matter more than the test scores and the school grades. Your students know that even if the newspapers do not.
Teacher, your heart is huge and it breaks easily. When it feels impossible, remember that you are doing something important.
Teacher, take a deep breath. Take those new supplies into the classroom, pack your teacher bag, and walk in with a smile. You’ve got this.
It’s a new year, and it is going to be a good one.
This job matters. You matter.