In the book Half the Sky, they end one of the chapters with this well known story:
A man goes out on the beach and see that it is covered with starfish that have washed up in the tide. A little boy is walking along, picking them up and throwing them back into the water.
“What are you doing, son?” the man asks. “You see how many starfish there are? You’ll never make a difference.”
The boy paused thoughtfully, and picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean.
“It sure made a difference to that one,” he said.
This quote reminds me of my first year as a teacher. I thought I wouldn’t make it for year two. I remember I was so surprised when my principal asked me to come back for another year. However, I did manage to survive my first year while teaching in an urban public middle school in Manhattan.
I remember when my mentor teacher came into my class to try to model good teaching and afterwards she was like, you have a really hard class. I remember breaking up a fight between two 6th grade girls in the highway and finding chunks of hair on the floor(not mine). I remember trying really hard to not break down in front of my students.
There were good memories too! I had some really sweet students that year as well. They also taught me the milkshake song, which I quickly realized was not about drinking milkshakes.
I can definitely say though that those rough first few years of my teaching career definitely did strengthen, challenge and toughen me. I’m so thankful for going through all that because it did make me become a better teacher.