Dear Future Ms. Lyons,
I write this letter to you, from the comfort of my good, ole, college house bedroom. Oh the good days of balancing two jobs, full time student-teaching, and being a full time student! Hopefully by now you have some more time to relax?!
Anyway, by the time you read this, you will be Ms. Lyons, with your very own classroom! Right now, the stress of the last semester of senior year is building up and I have no idea where I am going to end up, how I are going to get there, what opportunities are going to present themselves to me, or anything in between. All I know right now, is that I want to be a teacher and that dream will become a reality after graduation in May. With the millions of uncertainties right now, it is stress relieving to know that there is a certainty that I will become a teacher, and that teacher is you! The woman who had dreamed of becoming a teacher from when she was a little girl. The woman who was told that “teachers don’t make enough so you should consider a different career path.” The woman who was passionate about shaping little hearts and minds. While you read this, just know your college self is proud of you for sticking through the challenges and for always remembering to “just keep swimming.”
Now, Ms. Lyons (you sound so official now!), while I don’t know a lot about the future, I do have some pieces of advice that you should keep in mind, when life becomes crazy in the classroom.
- Continue to let creativity drive your instruction.
It is so easy to take the simple way out and come up with a one size fits all worksheet for your students to do. So. Easy. Do not fall down that rabbit hole. Sure, sometimes a worksheet is probably the best tactic to use for some lessons. Worksheets are not evil by any means; however, if the students can do a hands on project…let them! Let them explore different subjects through experiments, art, and creations. Allow the students to let their imaginations run wild! Students will be sure to remember “that fun project in Ms. Lyons’s class” far more than the 763rd worksheet of the year. If you are not enthusiastic about the lesson, the student’s won’t be either. Teach in ways that you are passionate about and be the teacher that students are ready and excited to learn from each day because learning is so fun in the classroom–like Ms. Frizzle!
2. Know when to take a break
You tend to be a very busy lady. While you enjoy taking on on lots of different tasks, know when to take a break! If you become burnt out quickly, because you neglect to take a break, this will translate into your teaching and your students will catch onto it. Go to bed early. Do a face mask. Watch some reality TV! If you do not take care of yourself, you will have an awfully hard time taking care of the little ones. You must tend to your needs and well being. I know life can be stressful but it is important that you know your limits and boundaries. Don’t be like Hamilton–know when to take a break.
3. Sometimes lessons will be amazing! Sometimes they won’t. That’s okay.
Sometimes lessons do not go the way you planned and you might feel a little bit like this:
While it is not fun in the moment, just remember no teacher is perfect. Everyone has off days, off lessons, and sometimes we put in a lot of work to something that might flop! With this, it is important to remember that it is not a reflection of you. You are a great teacher. You will continue to be a great teacher, after a lesson that maybe did not meet the mark! Guess what? It is in your mistakes and “mess-ups” that you are continuing to learn, grow, and become a better educator than you were before. Take these opportunities to refine your lessons and come up with something that works better next time! You preach to your students to “have a growth mind-set” and that “mistakes are okay!” Take your own advice. Mistakes happen. Teachers are not perfect. This is not a reflection of you.
4. Stay Positive
It is about as easy to adapt a negative attitude, as it is to create a one-size fits all worksheet, that we talked about earlier. Don’t do it. Come into the classroom every single day with a smile (and a coffee…this will help you smile more, too). Do not let yesterday’s day effect today. Students bounce back and come with a new perspective everyday. Be the reason that your students are excited to come into the class! Dance around with them. Sing with them. Laugh with them. It is easy to be filled with negativity as the school year progresses because you might be feeling burnt out. Do not let this effect your relationships with the students, your lessons, or your daily attitude. Continue to find a silver lining and remain positive, all year long! If you come in with a positive attitude, the day will go much smoother and you will be much happier. Be like this teacher!
At the end of the day, just remember, your younger college self is very proud of you for persevering and chasing your teaching dreams. You did it. You rocked it & I bet you are continuing to rock it. Stay creative, stay positive, and take breaks when you need to. Now, go boogie with your kiddos.
P.S. Here is one more song for good measure;)