So today I found myself sitting on my prep period with relatively little to do. It’s the second day of the semester so I don’t have any grading, and I’ve got all my planning done and handouts made for the week. Still wanting to be productive, I decided to poke around Pinterest for some inspirational ideas to use in my classroom.
Holy moly. Bad choice. After about 32 seconds I was feeling like the worst teacher ever. All I could see was how creative these other teachers are and how much I suck and am failing my kids. I started pinning all sorts of ideas and trying to figure out how I can make my classroom Pinterest-worthy. I started feeling overwhelmed, and then the paranoia kicked in a bit.
I did what I always do in times like these–ran next door to my mentor’s classroom. I am SO SO lucky to have an incredible mentor teacher. I told her how I was feeling like a giant failure, and she gave me great advice. She said to close Pinterest and focus on tomorrow’s lesson plans (which, coincidentally, is watching a movie. Hey, Hercules can teach them a lot about ancient Greece!). She reminded me that I am a first-year teacher, and I’m not expected to be amazing right out of the gate. I was thrown into a role that no one has done before (we are doing this weird block scheduling at my school this year and I”m expected to teach two different classes in my block) so my biggest focus should be on doing the best I can this year. Then I have all summer to look at what I did, make adjustments, and add new things.
I needed this perspective in my life. I’m such a perfectionist so I always want to be the best. I have been overtaxing myself trying to add all these great things to my classroom, but in the end I was just hurting my students. I’ve been tired and trying to do too many things that aren’t my style and don’t work for me. I’ve been working on accepting that my lesson plans might not be perfect this year, and that’s ok. As long as I give my students my absolute best every day (and make sure I cover the required standards) then I can consider my first year in the classroom a success.
I’m trying to apply this to other areas of my life as well. If something isn’t perfect right away, that’s ok! Life can be messy, and it can require some tweaking. That doesn’t mean we just give up on things or that they won’t work out well eventually! Any other first-year teachers out there who can sympathize, we will get there!