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    First year
    By A first year survivor

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    The reality is, your first year will be hard. With few exceptions, those who tell you they're having a good first year are lying. I know I lied during my first year when people would ask, "So, how's teaching?" I didn't want to seem negative, so I would just say, "Great." The thing is, everyone warns you before you start that the first year will be difficult, and that you just have to get through it. But somehow you don't really believe it until you see it for yourself. And you think it's going to be difficult because you put in a lot of hours or because you're unfamiliar with the school ... but the difficulty runs much deeper than that. It's learning to deal with the stark realities of classroom management, diversity of abilities, and school politiics. Also I think it's difficult to build up that "teacher stamina," which requires you to stand up in front of a (sometimes hyper) class and teach energetic lessons and then spend hours grading papers and planning more lessons ... five days a week and sometimes on the weekends.

    Although this is only my second year of teaching, I will tell you that the rewards of teaching are not instant, but come with time. Before I started I expected to be gratified each day at work as I guided young minds toward enlightenment. Although there are those extremely rewarding moments, my first year I would say that there definitely weren't enough of those to keep me going. But this year I feel so much more rewarded as I see my former students. They yell hello to you during recess, or run up to you and give you a hug. They come in and volunteer to work for you during lunch. And there they are, those kids who suffered with you through the greatest emotional rollercoaster of your life, who you felt like you must be warping for life as you fumbled to convince them that you were a good teacher ... and they still regard you as that caring friend who made a difference in their lives (even the ones who were always in trouble).

    So it turns out that people were right—you do just have to get through your first year before you can have a really good teaching experience. When I was going through my first year I thought that either I wasn't going to survive, or that, even if I did, things would never really get better. But thankfully I was wrong. I am now in a really great situation and I love coming to work—and maybe, just maybe I actually am having those gratifying moments I always dreamed of when I was getting my credential.



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