Most of my friends are first year teachers. Something I’ve been hearing (or seeing online via texts, tweets, and Facebook posts, as none of my friends actually live within hearing distance from me) is this idea of being a “bad teacher” because they are “first-year” teachers.
Now, I don’t think those two phrases are synonymous. Obviously, being a first-year teacher means that we have less experience in the teaching world than others. It means that not only do we still have a lot to learn about the art of teaching itself, but also about how schools, districts, curriculum, and adult life in general works. But why does that automatically translate to us being “bad teachers”? We went through the same 4-6 years of rigorous teacher preparation programmes that other teachers underwent. We passed the same teaching license exams they did. We are just as qualified as they are.
Sure, lack of experience does make us naive and there are things only experience can teach us. But as first-year teachers, I don’t think we should be going to work every day thinking we are going to “fail” or be “bad teachers” on a daily basis. If we don’t hold ourselves to high standards, if we expect ourselves to “fail” and not be the best we could be, how can we expect our students to be any different? I think that a part of being a successful first-year teacher includes being confident that all the things we learnt at school prepared us for real-life teaching, and that there are some days when we may feel like a lesson didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but that’s okay. We are still learning as much as the students are. I just think that if you are afraid of messing up, the students will be able to tell how nervous you are, and won’t be able to take you seriously as a teacher. To them, we are teachers, regardless of how long we’ve been one.