An Attitude of Gratitude: The Truth About Learning Who You Are as a Teacher

By Raevyn Harris posted 08-31-2022 09:24 AM


By Lindsey Acton, Director of New Teacher Member Experience 

As you are reading this, you’re probably in the first month of your school year—maybe even the first week or two. You’re a new teacher, which means that, at some level, you’re still adjusting to expectations, procedures, and being in charge of a whole bunch of children who don’t belong to you. This can be daunting, and it can feel like you’re never going to get the hang of this new life you’re living.

It’s been a couple months since we gathered for New Teacher Chat, but thinking about the adjustment period you’re in, and how you’re learning to establish yourself in your role as a teacher brings me back to the June NTC, when our speaker was Briana Henderson of The Educator’s Advocate. Her message was delivered so completely, so concisely, and in such a soothing way, that it feels prudent to share it with you as we welcome you to the new school year and pledge our support for your teaching journey.

It's important to celebrate the special parts that make back-to-school such an exciting time, but it is equally important that we recognize that the school year is a marathon, and not a sprint. Some parts of the year are more daunting and difficult than others. When we chatted with Briana in June, she emphasized this point repeatedly and reminded teachers how critical it is to not work above their own capacity.

“Here we are looking at you as a container, and as a producer. You are both, educator. You are both. That’s why your performance needs to be at your capacity. When I think of pint and when I think of gallon, no one looks at the pint and gets mad at it for not having the capacity of a gallon,” she said.

Briana, a former teacher and former administrator, again emphasized the importance of staying in your own lane and running your own race as a teacher. “You want longevity, you want to get rid of imposter syndrome? Perform at your capacity,” she said. “There is no one competing next to you. You’re running your own race.”

Briana made sure to remind people that the work of impacting lives is important, but that it also takes a lot out of a person. She emphasized ways that teachers can approach their work to avoid burnout, including setting boundaries and expressing daily gratitude for what we are able and willing to do in the classroom: “What we do, what we’ve done . . . it impacts lives,” she said. “In regard to your career, you’re going to be fine if you let your daily bread be gratitude.”

Living in the moment, one moment at a time, will also be key to your success this school year. Working too far ahead in your mind, or in reality, will create anxiety and potential stress that can be avoided by expressing gratitude and by remembering the acts of service that teachers are privileged to engage in daily: “We are going to be grateful that we get to serve in the space and time that we’ve been called to, and we are going to do it with a grateful heart.”

As you are beginning your school year, it is important to remember that you are working at your own pace to establish your own identity as a teacherhowever long that takes is okay. Briana reminded new teachers of this during her chat: “Allow yourself the time and the space to figure out who you are as a teacher. You will get there.”

She’s right. You will get there. This is a long journey, but it’s one in which you are capable of working to your advantage and experiencing success.

We wish you a happy, healthy, fulfilling school year, and we can’t wait to support your journey in the classroom with incredible, exclusive offerings from KDP. Have a wonderful start to school and know that we at KDP are with you every step of the way.