First Year Faculty Transitions

I’ve always believed that if you want students to do something and do it well, you, as a teacher, have to do the assignment yourself.  And one of the things I have been advocating that my students (who are prospective teachers) do is to make sure that they take time out to reflect: now in their preservice courses, soon, as they enter their student teaching placements, and later, through their first years of teaching.  It’s important to develop as a reflective practitioner, I tell them, citing authors such as Donald Schon and Max Van Manen.  And I truly believe that reflection, individually and collaboratively is the key to improving practice.  But then I come home, look in the mirror (or honestly, given that I spend so much time at work, I’m probably more likely to be looking in the mirror down the hall from my office) and I wonder if I’m being slightly disingenuous since I have no first year teaching journal to look back upon.

True, I have a master’s thesis and a BTSA portfolio that really encapsulate a lot of the reflection that took place during my first year of teaching practice.  And, I have lesson plans and plan books from that first year.  But there are times when I look back and wish that I had a collective record of my thinking day to day during that first year.  I remember that I cried every day my first 3 months in the classroom, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what could have been that bad.  This is probably because 11 years later, as a seasoned veteran of the urban public middle school, it takes a lot of drama and angst to get me worked up.  Don’t get me wrong, I never lost the passion, the sensitivity towards students and the drive for perfection that were most likely at the heart of those early tears, but I have harnessed my passion, developed a bit of a thicker skin, and let up on myself a tiny bit.  The question that is left without those reflective journals is, “How?”

And, I really wish I knew how right about now.  I’m in the crux of a new transition, from the classroom to academia.  My students are prospective teachers and I’m a level removed from the secondary classroom which still holds a deep place in my heart.  It’s a transition that is fueled by passion, commitment and a bit of perfectionism, but it’s an incredibly hard one.  I’ve left the comfort of curriculum I know, being at the top of my game, and being deeply loved by my students.  I’ve left the security of the place and profession I’ve called home for all of my adult life  to face uncertainty, rejection (sometimes harsh rejections from peers!) and tons of imperfection all over the place.

But, I’ve also left for opportunities: opportunities to make a difference with future generations of teachers and students, opportunities for further reflection and research, opportunities to grow professionally and personally in new and exciting ways.  I have the gift of great colleagues and fantastic students who all have been teaching me a lot in my first semester.  And, now, I have another opportunity to have a first year journal and share my transitions, for myself, my community and my students.

So, the journey begins…

One thought on “First Year Faculty Transitions

  1. The first year of teaching is so much MORE than one expects. Teaching is an incredibly emotional experience that drains us, each day, of so many of our inner resources. It’s imperative to take time for self care as soon as one starts their schooling. It gets much harder later on…

    Margit Crane
    Author, Family Coach, & former teacher & school counselor
    Gifted With ADD

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