You don’t need a calendar to know that school is in full swing—footballs are flying and Mother Nature is spinning her color wheel. As a new teacher, you’ve met your classes, memorized the cafeteria menus, and sent three of your little darlings to the office. Maybe it’s a good time to stop, take a breath, and reflect on the long, drawn-out process of becoming a professional educator. As you know, a professional is simply one who gets paid for his or her services (regardless of the amount). Just recently, many of you got the very first monthly confirmation that you are now a “pro.” Unfortunately, those of you who actually cashed the check have now lost your amateur status. Not to worry, there are older pros among you who in fact know what all those deductions mean, and could possibly even help you with the excess “confirmation” at the end of the month. But most of you reading this still have your amateur status and are playing for the love of the game—kind of. You are still developing your moves, and of course you have a trick play or two that you know will work, if only you could call the shots. So for you un-paid amateurs, let me remind you of what your compensation package will not tell you. As a “pro,” you will get:
Pooped. I worked my way through college on a highway construction crew, but I have never been as exhausted as during my first two years of teaching. It takes an enormous amount of energy to do the mental gymnastics required in the classroom. Simultaneously, you could be answering a child’s question on the Krebs Cycle, wondering why the rough-looking kid in the back of the room is tearing up, and trying to come up with a creative way to group your class for reading. That, my friends, is mentally draining, and will put you in the recliner after school. I have one old-fashioned word of advice for you first-year teachers—NAP!