On Your First Day: A Letter

Hey friend,

So you made through the endless classes, readings, papers, the practicums, the graduation ceremony, the interviews, the questions, the staff meetings… and now here you are on your first day as a teacher.

I know you said a while back that you would never be a teacher, that it was something you just could not see yourself pursuing in your life. Then you saw a third grader’s eyes light up when he realized reading was not as hard as he thought. You watched that little red-headed fifth grader pass a math test for the first time in her educational career. You felt your heart leap when the struggling students in the course you helped teach in college finally understood the lesson. That is why you are here.

You have worked so hard to get where you are. You are stubborn, over scheduled, and oftentimes overworked, but you have given everything to be where you are today. You are standing in the classroom you have been dreaming up since you made your siblings play “school” on the kitchen floor as toddlers. This is what you have worked for. This is the race you have trained for. It’s all come down to this.

In about five minutes, your first class is going to walk through that door. It won’t be easy (you wouldn’t enjoy it if there wasn’t some form of a challenge), and sometimes you will want to quit. Yet you and I both know you’ve got this.

Remember to relax, though! If you are anything like you are now, you work way too hard with no breaks. Give it your all, but please ease up on yourself. You are not going to get it right the first time. No one ever does. Let yourself learn. Let yourself adjust. You have all the skills you need, all the basic knowledge to get started. Now you just have to do it. Trust yourself to do what you need to do.

Your goal is to help students learn not just the facts but to learn about themselves. Literature can be as deep or a shallow as you want-it’s how you pursue it that makes the difference. For you it opened doors for self expression, dreams, healing, and, eventually, a career. Help your students explore and learn how to harness this power.

This is going to be the adventure of your life. I trust you. You should trust you, too.

Take a deep breath.

Go get ’em, kid!


Yours truly,




Add yours →

  1. I really like your attitude as a teacher-to-be. I know sometimes i doubt whether i will be able to teach long-haul or whether it really will be worth all the work, stress, and emotions. I think that this letter is a great reminder not just about WHY we teach, but a great reminder that all the work we put into becoming a teacher will eventually culminate in a job and THATS why we are really here. To prepare ourselves for what’s coming. I liked how your letter focused on yourself and not he students. Oftentimes we are told that everything is about the students, they should be our focus, and helping them should be what teaching is all about. I think that it’s also important to remind yourself that it’s ok for you to stumble and wobble as a teacher. That sometimes you have to focus on yourself and your own emotions and stress before you can conquer your students.


  2. I felt like you were writing to not only yourself but to every one who has ever dreamed of becoming a teacher. Your relatability as a writer is just one of the many things I enjoy about you. The fears that you listed have also been my own and I too always told myself “I will never become a teacher.” My mom always told me never say never. And she was right. I gave in to my destiny and realized that it was God’s plan all along He just let me believe that I was right when I said that I would be a horrible teacher. And I was the one who was wrong. I also get excited with my students when they begin to understand the wonders of the subject I’m teaching be it math, english, history, or even horseback riding (lol) I share in their joy as I know you do as well. I think you will become a beautiful teacher and I am praying for your future successes. 🙂


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