dear newly-graduated, freshly-hired, first-time-kindergarten-teacher Amy,
congrats on your new job! oh - and welcome to the real world aka "you gots bills to pay, girl!" :)
when you graduated from college (go dawgs!) and accepted your first job as a kindergarten teacher you were pretty sure you had it all figured out. in fact, you were almost positive that being a good teacher meant having a cute classroom with coordinating bulletin boards, perfectly written name tags, and completely organized, brand spankin' new school supplies. little did you know, this thing called "pinterest" would happen in a few years (after you quit teaching, of course) and it would totally blow your mind. but until then, you'll spend hours upon hours crafting, cutting, and creating. some might even say you were dangerous with a hot glue gun.
you are not married and don't have any children, so in other words, you'll have plenty of time to devote to your classroom preparation….and plenty of money to spend on it, too. in fact, you'll spend most of your waking hours preparing your classroom and your self for the 20+ little five year olds that will be "yours" for the next 10 months. the closer you get to the first day of school, the more anxious you'll become. you'll fret about things like parent/teacher conferences and meetings with the principal. you'll stress over paperwork and the logistics of teaching. but mostly? mostly you'll just worry about what in the world you're going to do with 20 five-year-olds for an eight hour span each day. because as prepared as you felt during your college and student teaching days, you start to wonder, "do i really know HOW to teach?!?!" and "am i qualified to be 'in charge?!'"
but rest assured, the first day of your first year of teaching will roll around and guess what? you'll survive and so will all of your students. (although, *spoiler alert* - one of them will break her arm falling off the monkey bars the very first day. but that's a different story for a different day).
you'll finish out your first year of teaching and deem it successful. so successful that you'll decide to come back for a second year. and a third. and a fourth. and a fifth! and with each new year, your confidence will grow and so will your teaching abilities. while you're positive you've "got this whole teaching thing down" i'm here to tell you that there is still so much for you to learn. things that you didn't learn while in college, during student teaching, or even through the first part of your teaching career. you love all of those babies you teach and your focus is on each and every little eager mind in your classroom, but what if there's more? what if you've forgotten about another aspect of teaching? - in the midst of the chaos and the craziness of the beginning of the year, it's easy to put your blinders on and have a sort of tunnel vision. but if you look outside of your class list, you might see that there's another group of important individuals to notice this coming school year. if you will; put down your school supplies, take a break from your bulletin boards and class lists, and allow me tell you a bit about those forgotten moments that i hope you'll remember this year….
when that tired five-year-old face greets you in the morning, i hope you'll remember that it's the face of a baby loved by her momma, long before she ever saw her.
when you sing songs during circle time, i hope you'll remember that the first songs she learned to sing were the songs her momma sang to her each night as she rocked her to sleep.
when you're guiding her little hands, teaching her to form letters, i hope you'll remember that it seems like yesterday she was being guided by her momma, learning to walk. she wasn't holding pencils and crayons, she was holding tightly to her momma's hands.
when you teach her to read and write, i hope you'll remember that she used to write love letters to her momma each and every day. and that as much as her momma will love to see her excel, a small part of her will miss the days of finding, "i lv u" phonetically written on pieces of paper around the house.
when you take that sweet baby to lunch each day and she walks through the large cafeteria, i hope you'll remember that she's only had lunch with her momma and sisters almost every day of her entire life. she's never had to find a place to sit, because she's always known her place.
when you see her getting sleepy in the afternoons after a long day of learning and playing, i hope you'll remember that she's still just five years old. and that she still likes to rest in her momma's bed when she's tired.
when you see her shy and timid face on that first day (and quite possibly the crying face of her momma!) i hope that you'll remember that she's trying to be brave. they both are. ;)
when you see that precious little angel hug her momma for the last time before she walks out of the classroom, i hope you'll remember that even though they both know she's going to love school, goodbyes are never easy. especially when that momma is saying goodbye to her baby knowing that she'll be spending more waking hours during the day with you than she will with her.
and finally, when you see that momma wipe away her tears and linger just a bit too long, i hope you'll remember to smile and reassure her. because as hard as it is to believe right now, one day soon - you'll blink and that momma will be you.
so when you see those babies on their first day and your first day, i hope you remember to pray. pray for their little minds to be expanded, their hearts to be protected, and their opportunities to be unlimited. pray for your love to be shown through actions, your teaching to be filled with wisdom and grace, and your heart to be filled with compassion.
i'm not an expert by any means, but i am a momma...so i think that makes me pretty qualified. and if you ask me, there is SO much more to teaching than just….teaching.
teach, love, and always remember. best of luck on your first day!
(not so) newly graduated, no-longer-teaching, first-time-kindergarten-momma Amy