I told someone recently that the upcoming school year will be my 18th year teaching (not including 2005-06, when I was traveling for half the year and substituting the other half). How is that possible? The students who recently graduated from high school and are starting college this year were newborn babies when I started teaching. Where did all the time go?
And more importantly, why do I still feel like a new and inexperienced teacher?
Part of the reason is because I haven’t been teaching in the same place for very long. I haven’t been in any one public school or school district for more than four years. Every time I have started over, I have felt new again, since students and their parents don’t know me, and I am unfamiliar with the school culture and the curriculum. I spent seven years at a tiny private school, and that’s kind of a different world, not to mention that there were only nine teachers and many of them had been there for a long time, so I still felt new in some ways after a while.
But I think I’m finally starting to feel like I’m not the new guy anymore. My school has had a lot of turnover since I was hired in June 2014, with several retirements, several others taking other positions elsewhere in the district, a few moving away for family or financial reasons, and one death. Even though I’m only going into my fourth year at this school, I think I’ve been there longer than about half the staff, and among the six math teachers, I have been there the second longest, and I am tied for second in terms of how long I have been a full time teacher in the district.
I have started preparing for the upcoming school year, and I have gotten to meet some of my new coworkers. And the idea of not being new anymore is finally starting to sink in. I am able to help some of my new coworkers find their way around the school, get the computers to work, and, in the case of math teachers, learn how the curriculum works. And this really seems to be helping my confidence. I’m not quite as shy or reticent among my other coworkers as I used to be. I feel more like I belong, and less like I’m always rubbing people the wrong way.
I have written before that my principal has told me that she could see me being a leader among the teachers. Maybe she’s right after all.
(By the way, I missed another week on this blog. Sorry.)