Celebrating the First Year

by | 05.10.17

Jordan Potrzeba is a fourth-grade teacher at Dream Lake Elementary School in Florida. He can be found on Twitter @JordanPotrzeba.

When I was growing up, my mom taught special education classes out of our home, so from a young age I got to see firsthand what it really looked like to teach. She was so passionate about it, and I think it’s a pretty unique experience to be able to witness that passion and say, “I want to feel that same passion about my job.”

This is my first year as a teacher, and I can already say that, yes, I’m there! I’m feeling that passion for my work. But it hasn’t always been this way – I was actually really overwhelmed and struggling a few months in.

It’s a funny thing that teachers can be lonely given they’re surrounded by people all day long. But it’s so true – the first few months of this year, I was feeling isolated and, I have to say, unnoticed. But then something happened, something that changed my outlook on this profession. Todd Nesloney, coauthor of the book Kids Deserve It!, reached out to me on Twitter! He said he’d noticed my tweets. He encouraged me to keep going and share more. I was floored.

In those early months he became a source of support, sending books, writing notes and even offering to meet up to observe me. He totally took me under his wing, and it was a powerful experience. But I know he does these things for teachers all the time, and I know there are thousands of other teachers who do it, too!

I realized it’s because I wasn’t valuing my experience and growth. I was thinking no one would want to hear from a first-year teacher. I was wrong. This first year isn’t going to define my career! But it will help it grow. And the worst thing that can happen if I fail? I’ll learn from it.

I’m so grateful for the teachers who’ve reached out to sustain me and push me forward. But just as importantly, I’m grateful for this realization that first-year teachers shouldn’t be afraid to stand out and offer others support, because our perspectives matter, too. Teaching at its very best takes each and every one of us. So if you’re feeling isolated or in need of that network of support, reach out for it – and I look forward to seeing you on Twitter!

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