Dear First Year Teachers, I Promise It Won’t Always Be Like This

Dear First Year Teacher, I promise

Dear First Year Teacher,

I just want you to know it isn’t supposed to be this way. This teaching gig? It gets better, I promise.

One day, you won’t have to sacrifice 60 minutes of instructional time every day to handwashing. So it’s fine, really fine, if this year you can’t cover every single curriculum expectation as a result.

One day, your chapped and reddened hands will recover from over-sanitization. Actually, who am I kidding? No they won’t! Kids are gross so you will always go through lots of hand sanitizer. Just make sure you invest in a good quality hand cream.

One day, you won’t have to talk through a mask all day. Your throat won’t be sore at the end of every school day. Your eyeballs will not have to roll so much trying to make up for the facial expressions hidden behind the mask. And just so you know, daily headaches are not always a thing when you teach.

One day, you’ll get to use those fancy lesson plans featuring collaborative learning objectives, student-directed projects and creative culminating activities. But this year, worksheets are okay. Individual assignments are okay. Teaching from the front to rows of students, or teaching from a screen to rows of avatars, is also okay.

Your education did not prepare you for this. Our decades of experience didn’t either.

We are ALL struggling. You are not alone.

Do you feel like it’s difficult to stay afloat? Are you sinking? Drowning, even? Guess what? – we feel this way too. Practice self-care – read for fun, exercise, have a hot bath, tune in to Netflix, go to bed early. It’s true that the marking won’t mark itself and the plans won’t plan themselves… but being a little late or a little underprepared won’t hurt either. If nothing else, this pandemic teaching is helping you learn to go with the flow!

Are you tired? So are we! More tired than we have EVER been in our decades in education. Teaching IS a profession that involves many more hours of work outside the classroom, but trust me when I say that the hours you are putting in this year are not normal, not sustainable, and will not be this way forever.

As your colleague, I’d like to apologize for being less approachable this year. I am always happy to mentor new teachers, share ideas, and give advice. But I know my resting face this year is off-putting. Believe me, I’m not usually this grumpy and tired.

You may feel that the effort you’re putting in goes unnoticed. But I see you. I admire your perseverance, your flexibility, your refusal to quit even though the job is so hard. I honestly don’t know HOW I would have handled pandemic teaching in MY first year. I applaud you for staying the course.

So massive kudos to you, you newly minted change maker. You have walked the burning coals. The gauntlet was thrown down, and you not only picked it up but you rocked it! At the end of 2021, you will not only have survived your first year, you will have thrived, and gained more experience than you ever would have in a normal first year of teaching. Is it hard? Yes! Will it be worth it? Yes, yes, yes!

Dear newbie, I’m proud of you.


The Veteran

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dear first year teacher, it wasn't supposed to be this way

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Anne Lefebvre


I grew up in the city but now call small-town Ontario, Canada home, along with my husband and two teenage boys. I’m a passionate elementary school educator, but when I’m not at school you can find me playing a sport, reading, or drinking a cup of tea.

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