Three years ago I was one of the new teachers at Arundel High School. A 45 year old new teacher. I was bringing a lot of experience to the classroom -- but the experience was as a parent, a childcare provider, a business owner, a writer. My experience was not in the classroom as a teacher. I was enthusiastic but terrified.
The second and third years were easier. Less terrifying because I knew what to expect. I knew Arundel’s school policies, grading procedures, discipline patterns, hallways, and staff. I knew a lot of students, and knew a lot about our student demographics. I was more confident and more enthusiastic.
So year four of my career and what do I do? Put myself back into the position of being the new teacher. Today is the first day back for teachers, and I am a little terrified. A new school and a new position -- as Department Chair for Special Education, Southern Middle School. I’m also teaching two classes. Social Studies (one of my areas of certification) and Science (a brand new field for me). I think I got a little cocky. I understood my responsibilities at Arundel as a Teacher, so I jumped right in when someone said “You could be a department chair. Will you apply?” I have accepted all these new responsibilities, and I am terrified all over again.
There is an advantage to terror though. As any kid on a roller coaster will tell you, the adrenalin it generates gives you incredible energy. So I am kind of hyper, looking through papers, asking questions, organizing my calendar, etc. I am planning my welcome talk to the department teachers, I am memorizing staff names and positions, I am thinking about what I should wear to make a good first impression. I cleaned my house yesterday just to use up some of that energy.
It is also exciting. I thrive on challenge. That kid waiting in line for the roller coaster has to face her fear and climb in when her turn comes up. I’m trying to face my fears this morning. I want my excitement to overcome my fear.
I am mentally packing my strengths in my teacher-bag to bring with me to my new school. I like learning something new. I like working with people, so my dependence on others for help is good. I am a good classroom teacher. I have a master’s degree (so I do have some authority!). I was invited to apply for this job, so the central office must think I am capable. I am patient, and flexible, and creative. I am strong because I recognize my terrors and face them head-on.
So here’s to all us “new” teachers. Here’s to all teachers, who head back to school with a teacher bag full of strength and energy. Work hard to get ready for school. Remember: once you accept the terror for what it is, the roller coaster is fun!
The opinions expressed in In the Middle are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.