December 28, 2022

Let’s go ahead and acknowledge it. The past few years in education have been HARD. We’ve been hit with challenges left, right, and center. And yet you have still chosen to do this work. That says something about who you are and the devotion you have to serving your community. To lead a classroom of children through all of the obstacles they face in a given school year is a massive undertaking.

As you are beginning the journey into your teaching career I want you to know that I see you. I see the evenings where you don’t leave school until after five. I see the Saturday mornings spent grading papers and working on lesson plans. I see the way you control your emotions when a student displays explosive behavior – the way you work to deescalate that student and connect with them gently. I see the fear and anxiety you manage when an upset parent reaches out to you. There’s nothing I could say to make all these things easier. There’s no shortcut or trick to learning how to manage a large group of children and all their baggage all day long. But the work that you are doing to figure it out-that’s the beginning. And as you take each step forward, you will learn just a little bit more about how to grow each of your students. Know that I also see the hugs your students give you as they walk out each day and the smiles on their little faces when you’ve helped them get a new concept. I see the difference you are making each day in your students’ lives.

So I leave you with this advice: model good character by apologizing when you’re wrong; take a step back when you’re frustrated; and ask for comfort when you’re upset. Lean on your teammates. Be honest with them about what’s been hard. They’ve been there too, and your honesty gives them a concrete place to help you. Treat each student like his/her/their parent was in the room. Last, but certainly not least, give yourself some grace. You’re learning. On top of that you’re learning in an exceptionally hard era of education. Give yourself a blank slate to start from each day, and do the same for your students. Though you may not feel it in the job, the work you do is so so appreciated by society. Hold your head high knowing that you have one of the absolute hardest jobs and you are doing it.

Leighanne Simpson was born, raised, educated, and employed in Greenville county. She attended Simpsonville Elementary, Hillcrest Middle, and Mauldin High schools. She went on to get my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Furman University. Leighanne now teaches reading intervention at Robert E. Cashion Elementary.

The Elevating Teachers blog is a platform designed to elevate educator voices. It’s a space to share stories and tips for maintaining a sense of purpose and wellbeing in and out of the classroom.

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