An Open Letter to First-Year Teachers After Winter Break

by | 01.7.20

Dear first-year teachers,

It’s been a little while now, but I can still remember how exhausted I felt when I made it to my first winter break as a new teacher. Coming back to school to start a new semester, I felt energized and excited to see my students, but I also felt some fear. There was so much time left to go in the year, and so much to do with my students. What if I couldn’t make it? What if I couldn’t do enough?

Now in my fourth year, I can tell you: You can make it! And you are enough! This midway point is a chance to recommit to who you are as a teacher. Set your to-do list aside for a few minutes and reflect: What got you into teaching in the first place? 

For me, bringing positive energy to my students is a big part of my “why.” Sometimes, that means I’m walking through the halls at 7 or 8 a.m. with a huge grin, high-fiving everyone I see. I might wear crazy outfits to surprise and engage my students. My early morning energy might feel like “too much” to someone who hasn’t had their coffee yet – and you know what? That’s okay. We’re all on our own journey every week as teachers. A big step for me has been letting go of my fear of judgment, and staying true to who I am. 

First-year teachers, I encourage you to be brave! Be brave enough to embrace who you are as a teacher.

Take pride in the ways you’ve already grown, and the ways you’re already making a difference. Talk with people in your school community. Try to be a listener. Try to be a happy voice. Identify the people who believe in you. Make sure you know who to go to on tough days. 

Don’t feel pressured to do everything. You have plenty of years to keep growing. Give yourself permission to take it one day at a time. If you’re bringing your full effort and full spirit to your students, then let yourself take a break at the end of the day. It is okay to enjoy your five, six or seven hours at home after school. You have to take care of yourself.

If you have this dream, if you have this vision, if you have goals as a teacher, then don’t be afraid to take that risk of going after them. As you start a new semester, be brave enough to be you.

You got this!


About the Author

Jordan Potrzeba
Jordan Potrzeba

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

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