Just recently I have really started to reflect back on my career. I've thought about all the things I wish I had known and the things I wish I had done differently. I can't help but think of all those poor souls that had to endure the mistakes of a young girl learning how to be a good teacher. These thoughts have caused me to wish I had found a letter from my future self, Back to the Future style, so I could stop all those horrible mistakes I've made along the way.
Here is the letter I wish I had found in the pocket of my 90's mom jeans.
Dear 1994 Julie,
Greetings! I come to you from the future. I have lots of advice so go grab a cup of coffee. Wait. You don't drink coffee? GIRL! Just wait! Coffee will be LIFE soon. You will be so addicted to coffee that you will have a coffee pot that makes a whole pot and a single cup all at once. The future is amazing! Basically you become your grandparents. But I digress.
So here's the deal: I'm you in 24 years. Occasionally I find myself thinking about my past classes and how I hope I didn't mess them up. That's when I thought I should have a conversation with you, my 22 year old self.
I want you to know that the first year of teaching will make you feel like you're never going to get the hang of it. Lessons will fail. You'll forget to copy papers. Some days you'll forget to even do an entire subject. Some days you'll think that feisty girl in the back hates you, but guess what? She will come back and tell you how much you meant to her some day. The kids know that you love them and respect them and they have no idea that you are scared of failing them. They just know that you are loving what you do and that you care about them.
I also want you to know that every year, you will get better and better. That doesn't mean the kids you teach now are getting anything less than the best, though. You never fail to let the kids know that you are exactly where you are meant to be. They love being there with you. Living in this small community lets you run into these former students all the time. They will always say how they loved your class and how they miss you. Even when you think you weren't your best self, you really were. Every teacher has a hard day, hard week, sometimes even a hard year. (I won't tell you which years those will be!)
Also can I just take a moment to let you know that all that stuff you're writing in those books on your desk is going to go out the window before you know it. You'll have lots more technology VERY SOON. Oh and here's a plot twist for you! Your school will make you technology coordinator because you know the most about computers! Don't worry! It doesn't last long.
I know you feel guilty because you spend so much time with other people's kids. Spoiler alert: your own kids grow up to be the most amazing humans! You have what it takes to be a great teacher and a great mom. Relax! You can do both!
Here's the bottom line: Don't get bogged down by a failed lesson here and there. Don't worry about things you wish you would have done. Just start fresh the next day and carry on! I'm teaching my first graders (YES I SAID FIRST GRADERS!) about how we learn from mistakes and mistakes are actually good! It makes our brains grow!
Sit back and enjoy the ride. It goes so fast. Oh, and please for goodness sake, the 80's are over, Jules! Get your hair cut TODAY!!!