Dear First Year Teacher, You Are No Longer A New Educator

letter writingFor me, it’s Year 22. Three schools. Two states. Between two to three thousand students who have come through my classrooms. Tens of thousands of essays graded. Multiple curricula adoptions, evaluation tools, administrative changes, over twenty proms, and more sporting events than I can count.

Yet, never have I had to teach remotely in this kind of situation where we all students and teachers were sent home to wait out a viral epidemic. In this case, it seems that you and I are both in a new situation at the same time. But you are more equipped to handle this than I am right now. Instead of my mentoring a new teacher, I find myself looking to the new teachers like you for guidance on how to trudge this new way of helping students.

I graduated from graduate school with my teaching certificate LAST CENTURY – almost before many a novice teacher was even born. The technology that I had mastered compares to nothing that we have now. I have a daughter about to graduate from high school, and I did not start having children until my 30’s.

The changes that you have had to undergo to adapt to virtual instruction are the same as mine at least in the eyes of the public, but you have a more keen sense of how today’s students amass knowledge, communicate with their peers, and use technology. In that regard, you are more of a veteran than I am.

Many things become abundantly clear the older that I become. One is that being around teenagers helps keep my heart young. Second is that I was a lot “smarter” years ago than I am now. Third is that no matter my age, I am still capable of learning if my ego does not get in the way. And teaching public school for twenty plus years and raising a couple of kids will erode a fragile ego and can make anyone more teachable.

Quantity is really a bad indication of quality in many circumstances. What I have seen from some of you new teachers this year and these past couple of weeks takes away a lot of doubt about the quality of teaching in schools after I retire.

But it makes me want to do a few things after this whole epidemic is over with and we can go back to our actual classrooms.

I want to fight more for graduate degree pay, retirement health benefits , and due-process rights for new teachers more than ever.

What you have been through this year and what you have successfully responded to cannot be measured by any evaluation tool.

I hope that you get enough of the respect you deserve for you to stay in the profession.