“Be flexible.” “Remember to go with the flow.” “Things will change last minute and it will be okay.”
These were all phrases that I have heard over my three years and counting in the classroom. As a Type-A person, it was always difficult to hear. I love having logistics planned out, my schedules organized, and always being ahead of the next step. However, when I entered teaching, I never thought I would have to calm down my planning nature with a more Zen focus.
Over the past three years, I have moved grade levels every year. I started in PK-4, moved to second grade, and then moved to fourth grade literacy at my placement school. After moving back to my hometown, I started teaching third grade reading and social studies in a Title I school. After one week of instruction, I was moved to another Title I school, due to low enrollment numbers, and taught third grade math and science.
Needless to say, I have become very comfortable with the idea of change. Even though I am not an expert, I can definitely give some advice for how I managed the different transitions I have faced over the years.
1. Stay calm and teach on. Although it would be easier to stay in the same grade level teaching the same lesson plans, the students should always be your first priority. It is easy to get caught up in the stress and anxiety of moving grade levels, subjects, classrooms, etc., but your students are counting on you to put your best foot forward. We teach for the kids not for the easy schedules.
2. Embrace the challenge. After moving to different grade levels, I have grown professionally and personally over the years. I have had to learn to lean on my team, mentors, and my judgment during these transitions. Learning new contents can be stressful, but it can also pique your interest. You essentially become the student again and have to understand how to bring down these concepts from what was once considered easy for you.
3. Perfection will NOT happen. Teach For America is flooded with amazing leaders and innovative thinkers. We strive to be the best we absolutely can be every day, whether we are current corps members or alumni. Even though you are all amazing, be okay with not knowing everything and being perfect in the classroom. The learning curve is strong, and each transition will have one.
4. Do you, boo. It is incredibly important for you to take time for yourself. Teaching is one of the hardest professions out there. When you compound those difficulties by changing grade levels or contents, you have to learn to take care of you. If that means some graded papers need to take an extra day so you can go workout or enjoy some teacher juice, do you! Life will be okay.
Every transition is difficult and time-consuming. Remember, you are a strong warrior in the education world! Take a deep breath, go with the flow, and do whatever is necessary for you to still love what you do every day.