OK, teachers, here’s the scenario: you are hired to teach in a new school location which houses students in Kindergarten through grade 12. Your certification is for multiple subjects in grades 7 – 12. All of your school belongings have been moved to your new room, its walls decorated with new, colorful posters, and the first week’s lesson plans are written and placed on your desk. All that remains is for you to meet your students.

After day #1 is finally completed and you realize that your early morning excitement has now turned into early evening exhaustion, you also contemplate that this has been a good day. Everything went very well for your Block A classes. Hopefully, this should be a good year if the Block B students that you will meet tomorrow are as cooperative and well-behaved as your students were today.

Up and off on day #2, you have barely begun to prepare for your students, when you realize that the youngsters entering your class are just that – young, very young – they are Kindergarteners! No one has mentioned to you that you would be teaching introductory computer skills to little ones. Your room is not prepared for students that size, you are not certified to teach that age, and your experience is with older students. You might be teaching about computers, but in reality, nothing about this situation computes! Why weren’t you told about this class before school began, or even when you interviewed for this position? Talk about going from the “sublime to the ridiculous!” You need your job and you love to teach, but something about this just isn’t right.

Have you ever heard of a situation like this? What would you do if this happened to you? Do you believe all things happen for a reason? I wonder how many similar events have “surprised” teachers at the start of this new school year? Unexpected challenges for new and experienced teachers are one of the topics Deidre and I discuss in our book. Sometimes the hurdles placed before you by other adults in the building are much more difficult to overcome than anything the students bring into your classroom. What do you think? Please share with us.

Sue – Voice II

I can remember as a new teacher being overwhelmed with three subject preparations using nine different textbooks. Added to that, no one told me that I was expected to be the cheerleader advisor as well. That entailed daily practices and attending each home and away game, which resulted in long days and long nights, sometimes ending at 10:30 pm or later. I got home exhausted, only to have to make final preparations for the next day’s classes. Talk about being surprised!

Each year new teachers experience being overwhelmed by additional responsibilities they didn’t expect with little to no support from administration or veteran teachers who may also be overloaded. Nothing in your college curriculum or student teacher experiences can prepare you for this professional reality. No one can really help you through it, but with time and experience you learn how to deal with all the “extras.” School is an environment that requires teachers to “wear many hats” every day. The load doesn’t diminish, but your ability to make it work does improve. Don’t allow the extras to discourage you or drive you away from your first purpose: the students and the classroom. You will improve with time, and that’s why we’re here to encourage you!

Deidre – Voice I

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