Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Letter to a (Struggling) Teacher Friend Just Starting Her Profession

Dear Friend,

Teaching is hard. The expectations are immense: we need to connect with students in order to change their lives, but we also need them to perform well on standardized tests for the sake of our school's success. We make plans and, if they go well, the day goes by unnoticed. If they go poorly, students begin to behave rudely and we question ourselves as effective teachers. It's just tough.

But, we need people like you. You are passionate, smart, and energetic. You want the absolute best for students even when they don't want it for themselves. You are creative and focused on improvement. You have good ideas--though they may fall on deaf ears from time to time.

I understand your frustrations--and I want to praise you for having and admitting them. It is the very best teachers who are concerned about their effectiveness. It is the very best teachers who are bothered by the students they can't reach emotionally instead of the many who they can reach easily.

Truth be told, you are effective; you've admitted that to me. In the classes you've taught before, you admit improvement. They are running easier and the plans have been rewritten to reflect understanding of your students. There is A LOT of good happening in your career. Are you celebrating that enough?

You work on the school's musical. You are willing to talk with students after school. You've created opportunities for students and parents to work together. You care about your subject area deeply, but you care about the students' learning even more.

All of this, put together, makes you a model teacher--someone to look up to, someone who is doing great work, someone who just needs to stick with it because it will get better with time.

All my best,
David

(P.S. For those of you who read my blog, please add to this the best you can. I know you don't know my particular friend, but you might know struggling new teachers. What do you say to those hard-working folks?)