Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Letter to a First Year Teacher

My daughter's first day of school is tomorrow.  She will be in the third a teacher.

Today, I offer some words to not only her, but to all new teachers.

Dear Megan,

I know you are experiencing many different feelings tonight as you think about your first day of school tomorrow as a first year teacher.  You are excited, nervous, scared and probably every feeling in between.

As you open your door and your heart to your students, I want you to remember three things.

Relationships matter.  These first few days and weeks you will spend time teaching classroom rules, procedures, and behavior expectations.  You will plan lessons with student-friendly objectives which meet your state standards. But none of these mean a thing if you do not build those relationships first.  Student learning will not occur without a meaningful relationship with you, their teacher.  Each child needs to know they matter.

Your students have names.  Many people will tell you your students are a number, a test score, a reading level, and even a label.  But they are your students first and foremost.  Don't let the educational culture get in the way of your passion for teaching or the reason why you are there.  Look at that class list and remember Jaxon and Brooklyn and Alexis and Zach and...

It is not going to be easy.  Teaching is one of the most rewarding professions, but also one of the most difficult.  You will come home frustrated, exhausted, and some days even in tears.  I will help you pick up the pieces because that's what moms do, but I will also tell you to hold on to the memories that will become permanently etched in your heart.  

Those smiles when the lightbulb comes on.  

The high fives when they finally "get it."  

The hugs you freely give because you know they don't get one at home.

The time you spend together reading books like Charlotte's Web and The One and Only Ivan.

The stories they write which will make you laugh and will even break your heart.  

Hold on to these and remember why you became a teacher in the first place.  Not everyone receives the privilege of going to work everyday and making a difference in the life of a child.

You do.

I am proud to call you my daughter, and now honored to call you a colleague. 




  1. I am getting ready to start my tenth year of teaching, and that was a wonderful reminder! Thanks for being an outstanding mom and teacher.

  2. "Awww..." were the words that just spilled out of my mouth and I'm crying Leigh Anne! This was just the perfect advice to share with your daughter and all of us. Thank you!

  3. I'm crying too!!! Love this! I'm going to share with the teacher that I'm mentoring this year! It's such a beautiful reminder to those of us returning to the classroom and such wise words to those new to the classroom. Thank you! :)

  4. Leigh Anne,
    I just love this. My oldest daughter teaches 8th grade and our middle son is working toward his education degree. Your words were beautiful. Wishing your daughter all the best in her first year in 3rd grade.


  5. So wonderful! My daughter is also going into teaching. She's a sophomore in college right now. I'll definitely do this when she gets her first job. Thank you for the inspiration.