Guest Blogger: First Year Teacher Clairessa Cruz Shares Advice

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In our inaugural blog post, first year teacher and UTA graduate Clairessa Cruz shares her thoughts on maintaining a strong sense of self and identity in the first year of teaching. She also suggests remembering why you became a teacher in the first place.

When you feel like quitting think about why you started.  For myself, being a first year teacher and a perfectionist can make anyone think about quitting, but I refuse to quit!  I think back to where I was two years ago, starting the education program, enduring countless APA papers, transitioning into a full-time student-teacher, while maintaining a part-time retail job, a marriage, and communication with friends and family.

Being a first year teacher I’ve learned to release some of my perfectionism, but I hold onto myself.  In college, I was the girl who wore make-up and semi-dressy outfits to school.  This is who I am and it is what helps me get up each morning and conquer another teaching day.  In the morning, I put on my music, a cute teacher dress, and put on my red lipstick.  Because if the day brings about unexpected conferences or twist and turns my outward appearance shows strength!

Find things that make you – YOU!  I myself love red lipstick and 1950’s iconic dresses.  When I began teaching this year I was afraid to let myself truly show.  But after pulling many 12-hour days, countless parent-teacher conferences, and revised lesson plans, I knew I needed something to help me. Especially, on days when teaching can seem draining both physically and mentally.  So I thought back to where I started and began remembering my own mental lines I use to tell myself, “One day I would finally be able to afford the iconic dresses and high-end cosmetic lipsticks seen in magazines.”  Sure this may seem mundane to some, but to me it gives me strength and the courage not to not quit.

If you are a first year teacher, do not be discouraged.  Try to remember why you started this journey and keep that in the front of your mind, especially if you are thinking about quitting.

What I have learned in this short time from being a first year teacher is we all go through grueling/demanding days and endure sleepless nights. I firmly believe we all have a story on why we started this journey and I hope you will remember, “When you feel like quitting, think about WHY you started!”

-Clairessa Cruz

UTA Graduate May 2015

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About Clairessa: Clairessa graduated in May, 2015, Summa Cum Laude from UTA with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, Generalist EC-6, and ESL Certification. Read more about Clairessa here.

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