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Since this is my third (or fourth) contract of the year I feel like I am well versed in the feelings that come with that first week in a new classroom. Different schools, different subjects, different students… same feelings!

As you probably have guessed, I really love this teaching thing. I put my whole heart into it, I am passionate, and the endless challenges and opportunities that come with teaching are something I thrive off of. So why is it that every time I’m in a first week I don’t feel the same passion? Why do I feel confused and nervous? Why does my normal happy self give way to frustration so easily?

20140330-181201.jpgNow don’t get me wrong, there were many moments of excitement and joy. Overall, the week went well and I am happy in my new job. But I also know that I’m not the only one who has felt those confusing, negative feelings and sometimes the best thing we can do is talk about it. These are some of the reasons I think the first week is a roller coaster of emotions.

Relationships

The key to good teaching is good relationships. It is why I do the job that I do. It is why I love to teach. In the first week the relationships don’t exist yet and just like that is tough for students it can also be tough on the teacher. It is hard to be the teacher I want to be without the key ingredient of relationships. So, yes, I know that this part takes time. And yes, it can’t be rushed. But that doesn’t mean that I can stop feeling the way I feel. It just means that those feelings are normal and they will always exist. I think this is the most crucial reason that teaching in the first week doesn’t feel right to me, and I think it is even more difficult when you come in part way through the year and the class dynamics are already well under way.

Curriculum

What do I love about planning curriculum? The creativity the goes into it and the inspiration I can pull from it. I love project based learning, I love critical thinking, I love investigation and building curiosity. In the first week there is so much to do in terms of building relationships, learning where students are at, looking at work samples, etc. that all of my favourite parts in planning curriculum get swept under the rug. The passion I have is still there it just can’t be unleashed quite yet.

Community

I simply cannot stand alone as a teacher. I need a community of other educators. I thrive on that community. In the first week, no matter the support that I get (and I received a LOT of support!) I still don’t have that sense of community yet. Already I have met some amazing teachers that I think I will connect with, but we haven’t really connected yet. Overall I know that the school I am at will be a good fit, but I don’t fit in yet. I feel lost and confused when it comes to a lot of the day to day and, no matter how supportive everyone is, I won’t feel totally comfortable until the haze of confusion is gone. I’m shy, I’m “slow to warm”, and it is hard to feel myself without a community. But, by taking my time to make connections I know that I will feel better about the strength of those relationships. This community building will take time but once I’ve built my community it will be a strong support network.

So relationships, curriculum, and community aren’t present enough for me to feel comfortable yet. They aren’t strong enough for me to be my most passionate self yet. But I can hold tight to the fact that I know what I need and that those key factors will build. I cannot erase the uncomfortable feelings, no matter how much I’d like to sometimes. I cannot rush the process because if it was easy then it wouldn’t be meaningful. And I know in nine weeks when I’m leaving this contract I will look back on this first week and wonder why I was so confused. I might laugh at how worried I was in the first week. And I will be sad to leave the community that I will have built.

The first week is long, tiresome, and uncomfortable, but it is necessary for all the good that will follow.

Meaghan