Dear Teacher, You Can’t Do Everything And That’s Okay

An open letter from one educator to another.

How to Do It All as a Teacher? You Can't

Dear Teacher,

The beginning of the school year is rapidly approaching as those sweet summer days fade off into the horizon. I’m sure you’ve already started planning—if not in your fancy plan book, then maybe in those late-night Pinterest sessions. Who will my new students be? What new ideas will I incorporate this year? Are all those DIY projects going to actually make it into my classroom? 

No doubt, your plate will be full this year.

New students to mentor, a new curriculum to teach, a new grade level to wrap your head around, or maybe even a completely new school! Regardless, it goes without saying that the work won’t end at 3:00. There is always one more stack of grading, one more app to try, one more student who needs something, and we just keep going through it all. It’s in our DNA to just keep pushing forward, relying on copious amounts of caffeine and chocolate to power us all the way to June. Plus, it’s the beginning of the year! Now is the time to make everything Pinterest-perfect for those little ones to ooh and ahh over on the first day of school! Right?

I can sense your blood pressure rising already…so, let me pause you for just a minute. In the midst of all of the back-to-school excitement and all the items on your growing to-do list, can I offer you this advice?

You don’t have to know how to do it all as a teacher.

“Psh! Of course I do! There are deadlines and report cards and new textbooks and parent emails and Student Council and bulletin boards and Meet the Teacher and…”

I get it. Believe me, I get it. I get the same feeling every year as August rolls around. Between scavenging for school supplies, prepping my classroom, and wrapping my head around yet another year of new content, I can feel the teacher burnout coming on early. But, then I stumbled upon last year’s student evaluations. Know what my students appreciated the most?

No mention of my killer bulletin board creations. Not one commented on that Language Arts Novel Study unit that took me countless nights to prep.  None of them were impacted by the comments on their Social Studies project rubric. Nope. That didn’t matter much to them.

Instead, they talked about the times that I talked with them about their friend problems. Or, the way we mini-conferenced about their writing. Or that day when we went outside to work on our projects—just because. It was the little moments where they were made to feel special and listened to, even in just a small way.

So, dear friend, take a deep breath as this school year begins.

There will be times this year where you will need to push through and work hard. It’s inevitable that your to-do list will grow and your pace will only speed up as the year goes on. You might decide to join committees or take on new adjunct duties. You might feel that revamping your whole curriculum is necessary this year.

But, please remember why you started this job: You aren’t just a lesson-plan creator, a classroom decorator, or a tech guru…

You are a TEACHER.

You are entrusted with the job of loving and mentoring young minds. There are many people who can make that perfect flexible seating layout, but YOU are the one who can walk this year’s life journey with your students. YOU are the one who has been put in charge of their mind and heart this year. And YOU are the one who gets to see their nervous smile on the first day of school and help mold them into a better human by the end of the year. YOU are the one who gets to help them see the world in a new light and empower them to go make it a better place. And THAT is the most important part.

Here’s to a great new year!

Sincerely,

A fellow teacher

 

 

Posted by Jeanette Lopez

Jeanette loves throwing her energy into her middle-school students and her family. With three kids under three, she spends all her spare time lesson planning, doing laundry, and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

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