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Lily’s Blackboard

Welcome, and Thank You for Joining Us!

I’m sure you’ve heard someone say that becoming a teacher is noble. But that only scratches the service. Teaching is a calling that takes heart and grit. It’s a pathway filled with discovery that provides individuals with the tools they need to explore their interests, shape good ideas, and transform the lives of others. Education creates great thinkers, innovators, artists, and tradespeople, and it’s the foundation beneath lifelong learning.

As you prepare to enter this wonderful and rewarding profession, remember that you’re not alone. You have the support of colleagues near and far.

Throughout this magazine, some of our veteran educators offer some very sound guidance. One nugget is to avoid being hard on yourself. The reason, one educator says, is that “Teaching means you get the chance to start over each year and do it all again but even better! Some things might be similar to last year but we are always striving for better and upping the ante! ... Other jobs do not afford people that opportunity but it is what keeps teaching new and exciting and why after 31 years I still LOVE my job!” For me, those words really hit home.

Of course, there will be repetition. That can be the case with any job. Every year will appear to have a certain sameness, yet, you’ll get a new crop of students every year. They’ll enter your world with personalities, gifts, and challenges unique to who they are. Their perspectives will reflect particular upbringings, and even hardships that will be difficult for you to imagine. All of what they’ve experienced up to the point that they enter your classroom—whether they’re 4-year-olds in preK or high school seniors—makes them who they are. And your lives will intersect at that moment in time—and whether you’re studying to be a math teacher, media specialist, or school counselor, you’ll always have that special opportunity to start over, to “do it all again but even better.”

So hang in there. Use resources available to help navigate your first few years into the profession. Seek out the wisdom of those around you—from the teacher next door and the local union or Association representative to the cafeteria worker. Leave no stone unturned because the profession needs you now more than ever.

And as we face the possibility of a national agenda focused on undermining public education, NEA needs you, too. We need you to make the commitment to become an activist who will stand up for students and insist that our elected leaders  put students before ideology and partisan politics.

Our local unions and Associations are the best mechanisms we have for creating the schools our students deserve and the opportunities we need as professionals. Just as we work together to encourage each other as professionals—sharing the best classroom management tips and the best advice—let’s work together to protect public education.

Thank you for your commitment, your energy, and enthusiasm.  Most of all, thank you for making the choice to make a difference. 

Lily Eskelsen García

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