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New teachers ready to face challenges of upcoming school year

Imagine being a teacher preparing for the new school year with the pandemic creating so many unknowns but then imagine being a first-year teacher. We spoke with one first-year teacher who says it's not as bad as you think.

Posted: Aug 17, 2020 10:00 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Imagine being a teacher preparing for the new school year with the pandemic creating so many unknowns but then imagine being a first-year teacher.

We spoke with one first-year teacher who says it's not as bad as you think.

First day jitters aren't just for students.

“Oh, 100 percent yes. I am definitely nervous,” Autumn Gupta said.

This is Gupta's first year teaching.

“This past week I just completed some of the different new teacher orientations and just realizing everything, like the nuance of what teachers are really responsible for and doing,” Gupta said.

One of many new teachers in the St. Joseph School District.

"I'll be teaching 8th grade science at Truman Middle School," Gupta said.

Even if it was a normal year with no pandemic raging, getting the hang of teaching is a lot.

"I definitely did not know everything, or all the small aspects like this huge mental checklist that they have constantly running through their heads of making sure they are loving on their students as entire people and humans first and then thinking about how do I communicate the content and the subject area,” Gupta said.

Gupta says it's not all scary. In a lot of ways this is an exciting time to start teaching. Whether they are in their rookie season or an award winning veteran, all teachers are starting on equal footing this year.

“It's kind of cool to be able to mentor these new teachers right now because we are all in the same boat which is nice," teacher Morgan Skaith said. “We have the opportunity to kind of all be on the same level because there's so many unknowns so when they ask a question, I'm like that's a really good question. I don't know either.”

In some ways, it may be easier for new teachers. There's no rule book to throw out and re-write.

“I don't know. It's kind of a bittersweet place to be at because I have no previous things to draw from. I can kind of get to start fresh. I don't really have to unlearn or think about how I adapt something that I used to do to my new classroom,” Gupta said.
Gupta says the district is encouraging them to ask questions.

“Here's the box but you can play out of it and in fact we encourage you to think of creative and innovative ways that maybe we weren't able to think about in the past because teaching has been what it's been for so long and now yes it's challenging, yes it's frustrating but there's also all this opportunity to just question and experiment with why haven't we tried this before," Gupta said. "If 80 percent of the class brings back an assigned paper then you pick the tik tok dance and I will learn it and I will do it live for you or silly things like that."

But before you get the wrong idea, remember Gupta like many first-year teachers is 100-percent nervous. This year will be hard so as a community she says we can do this one thing to help: be honest about the moment we are in and at the same time try to view it as an opportunity to grow.

"Ultimately build resilience together to go forward,” Gupta said. “Once we make it through this year, my students, you can survive anything, you can get through anything else that comes up in your life because you've already survived through this really challenging time.”

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