I had to get this down before the ideas left me.
Your identity is going to become intertwined with your job. I don’t think it’s avoidable, so just brace yourself. That means that when you have good days, you’ll feel powerful, empowered, confident, and motivated. When you have bad days, and you will, you might feel downright shitty. Over time, it gets harder to untangle who you are from who you are at work: to your admin, your colleagues, and your students. It’s okay if this happens. I think we’re trained to pour our hearts and souls into the profession and for a while that might sustain you. But we all run out of gas, and when you do, you’ll need other things in your life to give you balance.
Without balance, you can’t last. So make it a priority.
Teaching is just a job. The kids will be fine. You aren’t failing. No one is thinking as much about that lesson you think sucked as much as you are. Put down the weight of the day, close your classroom door, and go home.
Say no. You don’t need to join committees, run clubs, or do anything extra. You don’t. But if you want to and you do, and you enjoy it, and then later you don’t anymore, it’s okay to stop.
Don’t stay at school beyond your contract hours. In the beginning you’ll probably work on the weekends, on snow days, at night, during holiday breaks, and over the summer. Again, probably not an avoidable thing. However, you can discipline yourself to leave the actual school building when the day is done. Make it a habit.
Here’s the thing: no school administrator out there is ever going to tell you to give up your free time to work. They won’t tell you that you have to stay late or run clubs. That’s not how it happens. If it does, run.
In most cases you’ll see more veteran teachers (especially the ones kids all seem to love and all the other teachers respect) working late or hear about them working on weekends. They’ll look like magical creatures who can do all the things. That’s how exhaustion becomes normalized and, indirectly, glamorized.
If I can recommend something, make a list of what makes you who you are and all the things that bring you joy. If you start to feel like your job is bleeding into other parts of your life and it’s taking a toll, remember that being a teacher is just one tiny piece of you. Your job doesn’t dictate your worth<3