Advice to my beginning teacher self

Be You
I would tell my beginning teacher self, plain and simply, "Be You." When I began teaching I had many perceptions of what good teachers did and what their classroom should look like. I tried to be these models of good teachers I had in my head and it was a disaster.  It wasn't authentic to me and it read very fake to students. For example, the advice of not smiling until Thanksgiving? It's difficult for me to go 5 minutes without smiling let alone 50+ days!  By trying to emulate these various narrow models I had of good teaching, I wasn't authentic and genuine with myself and was trying to be a teacher that I was not meant to be.

Once I settled into my teacher self as me instead of a completely disconnected teacher identity, things changed dramatically.  Classroom management was better, lessons improved, and students were learning. My initial perceptions of good teaching weren't "wrong" they were just not me.  I have to smile and laugh and be silly and encourage students to do the same as part of their learning. There exists a huge continuum of good teaching. Your best fit along the continuum is the place where you can be your authentic self.