What It’s Like to Be a First Year Teacher

4 min


When I was little, I dreamed of being a teacher. However, that all changed when I reached high school. In all honesty, I did not like kids at all and would laugh at the idea of ever being a teacher. I was one of the many who would joke and say “I could never do it, I’m not patient enough.”

I went to community college after high school and changed my major about fifteen times. Not even exaggerating. Once I got to UNCG I had to pick a major. At the last minute, I chose elementary education. Not because I wanted to and was passionate about it, but because I thought it would be… EASY. I would joke and say that I chose Elementary Ed because all (and I quote), ALL I would have to do was have my kids draw pictures and do simple math. Ha, I know, trust me, I learned my lesson on day one of my very first class. Man did I have it all wrong. There was nothing easy about this major or this profession.

During my first year in the program I discovered a few things about myself:

  1. I have anxiety
  2. I have ADHD
  3. I need to wear glasses
  4. I hate public speaking
  5. I’m definitely an introvert
  6. Having a boyfriend while being in this program was a bad idea

Having to deal with these six things definitely sucked… but for some reason, I still stuck to this major. (Boy am I glad because if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have met the little people that have completely changed my life forever).

Throughout those four years in school, I heard from multiple people that I would never make it in being a teacher. Even though they did not straight up say that, their actions and words conveyed that message loud and clear. I was the shy, quiet girl who hated public speaking, who couldn’t even stand in front of the class to speak. I wasn’t confident and it was obvious.

 If you’re like me, let me tell you something right now- you are not the only one. BUT it doesn’t matter. You know why? Because kids are better than adults- they are accepting of you, they’ll think you’re cool, they’ll think you are the most hilarious person in the room, they’ll make you laugh, they’ll give you hugs, they’ll make your day by simply letting you know you are worth it to them. Saying these things almost puts me to tears because I’m invisioning my own students right at this moment.

After graduating college it was time to be an actual adult and get an actual job. The whole interviewing process was stressful for me because I’m shy. Man, looking back I had some of the cringiest interviews, but some, on the other hand, went really well. The more I did it, the more I got used to it. What I hated more than interviews though, was the constant question of, have you found a job yet?” from other people because no, I hadn’t and it was already JULY. Hello, school was about to start!

Crazy thing is, at the end of July is when I started getting the offers. And the craziest thing is that the job I accepted was for a school I didn’t even apply for. Another principal that I had interviewed with had gotten the word out to another principal who ended up emailing me. The crazier thing is that the principal’s email was in my SPAM folder. I had just happened to look in there one day and BAM there it was, and here I was finding it one MONTH later. I thought it was too late but my principal emailed me back and said she was still doing interviews. Luckily enough I got the job.

Fast forward to August 28th, the first day of school, first-year teacher. A teacher walked into my room and started “warning me” about the different kids in my classroom. One, in particular, stood out to her. She told me that he was always getting in trouble last year, that he can’t concentrate, that he was going to give me trouble. Those words made me even more nervous. Those words made me not like the kid, even though I hadn’t even met him yet.

I was trying to be the “do not smile till November” kind of teacher. I was bad at that and I don’t want to be that way. Not saying that I’m not strict, because I am when I need to be. But these are eight-year-olds. I have to remember that and not expect them to be perfect; especially if I’m not. These kids weren’t bad kids, they just needed an environment that would accept their jitteriness and not see them as behavior problems.

I was aware that my room was filled with kids who others warned me about, but I had no idea that my room was also filled with my new little human best friends. They did test me some days, but there was not a day that went by that they didn’t make me laugh. I even laughed till I cried more than once. One day, one of my kids fell off his chair. This kid was the kid who dropped his pencil box everyday okay.. so now he’s dropping himself off his chair and I lost it. I went off on him and told him that he needed to sit the right way. THEN the next day, guess who falls off their chair?? ME. I was leaning on it too much and BANG I fall. The room got quiet then my kids asked me if I was okay, but before I could answer we all started laughing.

The kids who I was warned about started inviting me to their football games and basketball games and I LOVED going. And you know about the kid I was warned about at the beginning? We have the most beautiful teacher-student relationship that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. This boy opened up to me in ways I didn’t expect. He was known as the trouble kid (and still is now), but not to me. Even though some may not understand what I see that is so special about him, I’m glad that I do. He needs someone in his life who sees him as an amazing, hilarious, intelligent individual.

Everybody told me how hard this profession was, but nobody told me how sad and how hard it is to watch your kids leave your classroom at the end of the year. I miss my first-year kids and I do not know how long it will take for me to stop feeling this way. I should be happy that they went to fourth grade, and I am very proud, but the whole idea of me not having them in my class ever again is just plain sad.

When I started, I did not expect to feel this way, after all, I didn’t want to be an actual teacher right? However, I’m writing this because I can now genuinely say being a teacher is so worth it. People told me that I couldn’t do it but you know what? I did it. And you know how I did it? By building relationships with my kids. They let me be who I truly am, they accepted me for me. Some grown-ups don’t know how to do that.

They taught me so much without me knowing. I’m glad God did not let me change my major for the 16th time. I will never forget these kids. Now I get to build more relationships with my new and future students. Teachers, we make a difference every day. We have the chance to teach little people not only what the curriculum says, but also teach them outside the curriculum. We get to teach them how to be great, kind, and caring people. I know they’ve taught me to be a better version of me too.

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Second year teacher to amazing third graders!

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