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The Thrill-Ride Begins


Three years ago I was one of the new teachers at Arundel High School. A 45 year old new teacher. I was bringing a lot of experience to the classroom -- but the experience was as a parent, a childcare provider, a business owner, a writer. My experience was not in the classroom as a teacher. I was enthusiastic but terrified.

The second and third years were easier. Less terrifying because I knew what to expect. I knew Arundel's school policies, grading procedures, discipline patterns, hallways, and staff. I knew a lot of students, and knew a lot about our student demographics. I was more confident and more enthusiastic.

So year four of my career and what do I do? Put myself back into the position of being the new teacher. Today is the first day back for teachers, and I am a little terrified. A new school and a new position -- as Department Chair for Special Education, Southern Middle School. I'm also teaching two classes. Social Studies (one of my areas of certification) and Science (a brand new field for me). I think I got a little cocky. I understood my responsibilities at Arundel as a Teacher, so I jumped right in when someone said "You could be a department chair. Will you apply?" I have accepted all these new responsibilities, and I am terrified all over again.

There is an advantage to terror though. As any kid on a roller coaster will tell you, the adrenalin it generates gives you incredible energy. So I am kind of hyper, looking through papers, asking questions, organizing my calendar, etc. I am planning my welcome talk to the department teachers, I am memorizing staff names and positions, I am thinking about what I should wear to make a good first impression. I cleaned my house yesterday just to use up some of that energy.

It is also exciting. I thrive on challenge. That kid waiting in line for the roller coaster has to face her fear and climb in when her turn comes up. I'm trying to face my fears this morning. I want my excitement to overcome my fear.

I am mentally packing my strengths in my teacher-bag to bring with me to my new school. I like learning something new. I like working with people, so my dependence on others for help is good. I am a good classroom teacher. I have a master's degree (so I do have some authority!). I was invited to apply for this job, so the central office must think I am capable. I am patient, and flexible, and creative. I am strong because I recognize my terrors and face them head-on.

So here's to all us "new" teachers. Here's to all teachers, who head back to school with a teacher bag full of strength and energy. Work hard to get ready for school. Remember: once you accept the terror for what it is, the roller coaster is fun!


This was a perfect blog to read today, as I started my first full-time, non-interim position in a school. I had taught Spanish several years ago, as a long-term sub, for one semester when our high school was desperate half way through the year to replace a teacher who left suddenly. That was trial by fire and temporary, and I loved it. Today, my first day, I trained with other newbies in crisis intervention for a position as an instructional aid in a middle school. It is a perfect position for a graduate student, career changer, age fifty. It gets me in the classroom and challenges me to try what I have learned over the years and by theory in the classroom. But I was terrified today, questioning whether this was the right position, and if I could really do the job. Ironically, my seventeen-year-old daughter gave her wisdom to me and set me straight. Thanks to you and to her I am less terrified now.

I am a "second career" teacher, teaching middle school math for 4 years for a large urban school district. I've spent the past few days moving into a new classroom, at a new school.I had established myself in the last school, and entrenched myself in the community, and did not want to leave. This is my 3rd building assignment. After reading your story, I too feel better about my ability to face the challenges ahead.

AS you mentioned , the terror has to be accepted for what it is. Sharing your thoughts made me feel like I'm not alone. I was a dept. chair and had to give it up this year due to changing schools. What I was not ready for was the fact that I will be doing five preps and two of which are not my subject of certification !!!! but as you said, "one I accept the terror for what it is, the ride will be fun ." Thank you for reminding :)

Reading this, I feel like it is so familiar: It reminds me of me! I have been a new teacher at new schools every year for the past 11 years, I have changed careers at least twice, and I am constantly working other part-time jobs, seeking new fields of study and work opportunities. Are you a Gemini? I have been told that that's what causes me to "bore" easily...
I consider myself to be like a lot of my students... and try to keep them engaged on as many dimensions as possible.
Good luck with your new job. People often underestimate the value of experience over text book knowledge. All your experience is all you need to know you will be really successful in any circumstance.

I may become the new dept chair for the elementary schools in my district. I want the position, but I am afraid of speaking in front of large groups. Do you have any advice?

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Recent Comments

  • soso: I may become the new dept chair for the elementary read more
  • Cristina: Reading this, I feel like it is so familiar: It read more
  • Bea Flaig: AS you mentioned , the terror has to be accepted read more
  • Karen Gilbert: I am a "second career" teacher, teaching middle school math read more
  • Josephine Mayo: This was a perfect blog to read today, as I read more




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