A colleague and I had a brief conversation in the faculty room this week about time. She was recalling how many hours it would take her each night to grade and then prepare for the next day. This time has decreased as she has continued in the profession. Though we teach different content areas, I could relate to her story.
For me, seven years was the magic number. It was after seven years that teaching became easier. I became more confident in my content area (though I had not taught the same classes for 7 years), in my discipline, and in my communication with parents. The scope of teaching, all the behind the scenes necessities, can be overwhelming. But, after time, all of these once hidden aspects reveal themselves. I think it was in knowing all that teaching entails that I truly became comfortable with my craft.
Change and adaptation are essential in the classroom. I want to be sure to address that here. Being comfortable and my job getting easier does not mean I teach the same content in the same manner year after year. No. I adjust. I search for new ideas, edit old work to make it better, consider my current class when developing new lessons and units, etc. This change and adaptation, though, is so much easier now than it was in the beginning.
I would love to be part of a conversation that encourages teachers to stick with this profession; a conversation that highlights what is possible and likely if teachers stay in the classroom. We have, as a nation and researchers, sought answers for teacher retention and highlighted the woes of the 3-5 year departure trend. Now, we need to look forward and encourage those starting out by emphasizing the good and highlighting the veteran teachers.
What keeps you teaching? What advice would you give a novice teacher? How did you push through those first five years?