|Graduating with my best friend from birth, Carla!|
Oh, if I could go back. If I could just speak to this girl with the knowledge and experience that I now have. First, I would tell her to do something with that hair ;-) but then I would share with her a few things about being a special educator.
- Make a detailed schedule. Put in everything: feedings, changing, toileting, everything. This is the best way to account for all of your staff and be sure that everything gets done.
- Be flexible. Your plan will not always work every day and that’s okay. Your principal may come observe you while there is a kid having a meltdown. It happens! It doesn’t mean you aren’t good at what you do! If you have a good schedule that works for your class, stick with it. Then, even if the world is blowing up, it is obvious that it’s not common for those random off-schedule occurrences.
- You are not defined by your students’ achievements or what others think. You may work your rear-end off and have the greatest research-based activities planned, and a student still doesn’t progress as quickly as you think they should. Just step back and try something else. Don’t be afraid to ask teachers who have been there. We’re all just trying to do the best we can with the tools/knowledge that we have so far!
- You cannot make everyone happy. There will be parents that have an agenda, there will be coworkers who don't appreciate your hard work and/or positivity. Don't waste your time and effort trying to make everyone appreciate who you are. Be you!
- It is important to maintain balance. Yes, read professional development books on the beach, but also read Jane Eyre. Discuss the newest reading strategies, but also discuss football (Alabama football, of course) ;-) You will benefit from this balance, as will your students.
- Your students will steal your heart. When they hurt, you will hurt. When they have an "aha!" moment, you will swell with pride! When they move on from your class, it will be harder than you would imagine. Cherish your moments with them as you change their lives (and they change yours)!
I'd love to hear from you! If you could go back and speak to first-year-teacher-you, what would you say?