As you get ready to start school, or, for some of you, engage in the first week or two of school, I wanted to write a letter to you. The first thing I want to say is thank you. You might be in an environment where you do not hear that enough. Thank you for getting up and getting ready to tackle another insane school year. When they told us teacher would not be easy in college, they did not tell us about the possibility of teaching multiple years in the midst of a pandemic. Despite the change of your entire teaching environment, you have altered your lessons and have come up with some pretty cool ideas that I am sure will stick around when this virus is passed us.
You are going to face more challenges over the course of this school year and you are going to make mistakes. That is ok. We are all going to make mistakes. You will rise up over those mistakes and still do an amazing job. The students will look to you for guidance and grace and you will show it to them. When you don't, you will step and make it a teachable moment. I am so sorry that this is going to be another year of students coming and going because of quarantine, another year of having that pit feeling in your stomach when you, or your loved ones do not feel well, another year of trying to figure out how to take care of your own children at home and the ones in the seats in your room, and another year of thinking you are just not good enough. You are good enough. You are better than good. You are freaking amazing. You have made it this far and you decided to come back for another year. It is not easy, but you are doing your best.
I also want to make sure you take time to take care of yourself. Your mental health is important you DO NOT need to burn yourself out in the first couple of months of the school year. You have friends and family that need you and, most of all, you need yourself. Take those breaks from grading at home. Spend time watching the true crime documentary you have had saved for a few months. You are no good to anyone if you are not well. You are loved by so many. We all want you to be well. Take time to make sure you are.
Lastly, to any new teachers starting their first job this year; welcome to the club. You don't get a shirt, but you will wear your job as a badge of honor for years to come. It is not going to be easy, but find yourself a mentor to help guide through all of the things you need to know that are not taught in school. Be eager to learn, be yourself, and don't be afraid to say, "I don't know". Those three words are some of the most honest words you can say as a teacher and more people need to feel comfortable with saying it as long as they follow it with, "But I'm going to find out and get back to you." You are going to feel like an imposter this year, and probably a few years after. To be honest, you will not feel truly good abut what you are doing until your 5th year or so. That's ok. We've all been there.
I know this year is going to be tough, but I know that teachers across the country and around the world and going to do their very best to make sure our students feel welcomed, loved, and safe. You've got this and share this message with other educators that need the pat on the back. It is a small act with everything that is going on, but sometimes support starts with a small act and grows over time.
Sending you all of my love and support,
Nicholas Provenzano aka The Nerdy Teacher