New year. New job. New school.
At the end of the day, transitions are not just between classes and for students. They can happen to us, as educators. We find ourselves in situations where there may be a better opportunity calling and it becomes available for us to take hold of. It’s a difficult change, because even though the shift may be better, starting over in a brand new place can be nerve-racking, especially after building a relationship with staff and students who you have left behind.
I actually worked in three different schools last year, climbing the career ladder within months of each other. I left my first school in late September, and then the second at the end of March. It was tough on both occassions to leave, because a.) being in your comfort zone is a thing and b.) learning new skills and/or rules are never easy to adapt to. However, it’s never wrong to take charge with your future, and sometimes feeling “safe” isn’t the best in that scenario. You have to look out for you, and that’s okay!
No one said it was going to be a simple change. It’s quite possible you’re a shy human being, and that is totally a factor to take into consideration. However, being a quiet individual may work against you because it doesn’t give people the impression of being shy; it could be that you are rude or “not a team player.” Try to get rid of your cautiousness immediately. This is a place where you may be for a long time, surrounded by colleagues who may become co-teachers, assistants, etc, and you’ll learn that right at the get go (most likely during orientation).
In any case, start chatting with people right away. Introduce yourself. Help people set up their classrooms. Be outgoing. Yes, you could possibly have your own laundry list of stuff to deal with, but they say that first impressions are important, so you have to go in trying to make the best possible one.
It’s a scary feeling, going in blind, but try to understand that it won’t be forever. In due time, the environment will feel familiar, those employees that were strangers will become trusted advisors/friends, and the students will become your own. Then, maybe somewhere down the line, you begin anew somewhere else. However, that’s then. This is now.
There’s not a huge difference than a kid starting school (or a new grade) for the first time and you starting over. It’s crazy that there are so many parallels between students and their teachers. Snow days, summer breaks, and the “beginnings are scary” vibes, amongst other things. The mindset you have in this situation can actually serve as an anecdote for your soon-to-be-arriving students, to help both you and the young minds feel more comfortable. It’s a fantastic way to start out on the right foot as well, to let the students know that you are more alike then you realize, and how you can function as a unit, becoming more comfortable with the school and each other as the year progresses.
Wherever you end up, good luck on your new venture, and may the opportunity benefit you in every way possible!
–Logan J. Fowler is a special education teacher working in Princeton, NJ.