Teaching Opinion

A Letter to Myself on the Eve of My 15th Year of Teaching

By Starr Sackstein — September 06, 2016 2 min read
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Welcome to the 2016-17 school year. There is a world of opportunity that awaits you and your students and not a moment of learning should be wasted.

You’re starting a new job, in a new place with new job responsibilities and that can be so scary! Especially because you pride yourself on doing everything the best that you can and you sometimes expect yourself to do it perfectly, immediately.

Please, take a second to STOP!

Remember what you would say to students who wanted to do their best but missed the mark on the first try. Nothing worth doing well comes easily and if we want to get better, we have to practice, but we also have to go easy on ourselves.

Try not to stress out when you can’t control the situations that are happening. You know after 15 years of teaching, that so many things are out of your control but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something positive and forward thinking every day. Hey, you’ll be touching the lives of teachers and students and helping to increase achievement in your new school. That’s something, but it won’t happen over night.

The day to day can get crazy in a school, but always keep your focus on what matters, the people you work with. Build relationships and establish rapport quickly so that trust can be formed. This trust will be the foundation of everything important to come as without it, no on will want to grow or learn with you.

Always seek opportunities for collaboration with colleagues in and out of school. The best ideas are nurtured when educators work together; shared experience, after all is the best resource we have. So when a set back arises, reach out to the people you trust most, allowing both humility and vulnerability to show through. No one likes a know it all.

There will be much to learn and that is very exciting. Once you get to know the culture of your new school, it will be easier to know how to approach challenges that need to be solved. Some solutions won’t work and that’s okay, you’ll reflect and grow and try again, modeling the growth mindset that you are always telling others to use. Don’t be a hypocrite, practice what you preach.

Don’t let your priorities get skewed. Your son and life outside of school matter as much if not more than your career. Work hard to find the balance that has always been difficult and remember to take time for yourself as well.

This is going to be a great year even if it is sprinkled with bad moments. Stay focused on the positive and it will all work out okay. You are your toughest critic, so be gentle on yourself.

Take the time each day to reflect on the days of events, establishing what went right and what needs work and stay grateful for the opportunities that come your way. You’re so lucky; never forget how lucky you are.

You got this!

What message would you tell yourself in a letter at the start of your school year? Please share

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