In March I wrote about the work that educators and those who work in our schools have been doing tirelessly throughout this difficult year. In this blog post I wrote not only about the challenges that educators have been facing this because of the pandemic, but also how teachers are being taken advantage even in a “normal” year.
With all of this in mind, what a lot of people do not consider is the impact of the education system on those new to the profession- first-year teachers. As a first-year teacher myself I have seen what my university programs promise as to a fulfilling career where you are appreciated for your work “changing student’s lives.” That being said, the reality of teaching is not necessarily what people may have pictured, especially after this year. I have peers who are seeking new professions after one year in a career that they spent five years attaining a degree for.
First-year teachers are those who have been feeling a lot of the pressure of this year because we do not know anything different than this unstable year. Additionally, we are worried about our future because we do not have the job security that a tenured teacher may have. This leads us to work even longer hours than the already over-worked teacher and we just have to put up with it. This year this has meant that the whole educational system has been capitalizing on our inability to have work-life boundaries. Although this is true of teachers at any stage in the profession, without job security and the imminent budget cuts each spring, first-year teachers are put in an even tougher spot.
Likewise, first-year teachers have been placed in a position where they are learning their districts curriculum along with adapting to each change that this year brought with distance learning, hybrid learning, and in person learning that put teachers health at risk. Teaching is already a profession that you bring home with you no matter if that means you are preparing for the following day or worrying about your students wellbeing each night as you lay in bed.
Teaching is a profession where every professional counts because we all need to be working together to improve our already broken educational system for our students present and future. That being said, education can have an extremely high turnover rate with first-year teachers being told that if they can “survive” the first three years in the profession, then they should have success in their career following. But why are we telling new teachers that they just have to survive those first years? Why is there not a system of support for first-year teachers that will retain them due to a better understanding of setting work life boundaries and of course a salary that equates to the countless hours they spend caring for our future leaders.
Considering all of this, first year teachers would also not be where they are without the guidance and support of their experienced colleagues. As a first-year teacher myself I know that I am indebted with gratitude to my mentor teacher who has answered each one of my numerous questions without complaint. However, receiving the appreciation we deserve definitely helps.