What I Wish I Knew as a First Year Teacher

I’m sure we could all fall into a rabbit hole, thinking of the moments where “I should’ve done this instead of that”, but we’re going to avoid that hole, at least for now. I’m here to reflect on what I was told and did my first year of teaching, and what I wish I knew now that I reflect. My intention with this post is to remind teachers that we are all human. Humans who work our rear ends off to ensure the success of others, and while it is hard and consuming, we are still humans doing the best we can. That was deep, I know. 

Manage Expectations


Rome wasn’t built in a day, lil’ Jimmy isn’t going to master his social emotional goal after 2 weeks of school, and no one knows 100% of what they should know when entering a new career. Managing and creating realistic, yet empowering, expectations for myself is something I struggled with my first year as a teacher. And also perhaps my second year. 

I think there is a way to hold yourself to a high standard, while still being easy on yourself when the chaos inevitably strikes. I also wish I listened more when my colleagues or student’s parents gave me praise. Hot take: when someone tells you that you’re doing a great job, they actually mean it and you should let yourself feel proud! 

Use Your PTO


A lot of thought goes into taking time away from your classroom. Sub plans, alternative schedules, and nowadays, even being able to secure a substitute. I was convinced that it was easier on myself and everyone in my classroom for me to just power through and miss as little work as possible. I am here to report that my mental health begged to differ! Taking time off is so important. No matter how much you love your job, taking a step away for a day or two allows you to hit the refresh button that every adult deserves and needs.

 If your honey asks you to take a spontaneous trip, don’t let the guilt of leaving your classroom prevent you from going. No one is judging you for taking the time that is given to you to use. You’ve spent so much time training your powerhouse paraprofessional team, so take advantage of the fact that you have a classroom that can run itself and get outta town!

Resources are Everywhere


Ya know with the world we live in nowadays, everything is accessible, she says in a granny voice. But in all seriousness there are so many amazing resources and fellow teachers out there. Though our community may seem small, we are mighty and we love to share our brilliant ideas! I think back on year one and I swear I would spend hours trying to make a data sheet that I could have downloaded for free from our girl, Sasha, in 3.5 seconds. Take the time to do your research and find communities, such as The Autism Helper. Work smarter not harder! It’ll pay off in the end when you have a tough situation that you need to brainstorm or if you just need a fun Fall craft.

Reagan Strange, MSEd
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