Friday, March 7, 2014

Semi-Random Musings of a First Year Teacher

Post by Matt Nagovan: Matt is his first year of teaching math at Bettendorf High School. You can follow him on twitter @MNagovan

I decided that I wanted to teach near the end of my senior year of high school. When I told that to the only teacher I remotely enjoyed having (Calculus of course), his response was, “Teaching is not what you think it is.” At the time, I almost took offense to that statement, thinking he was trying to dissuade me from pursuing the profession, or that he thought I wasn't cut out to be a teacher. As time goes on, though, I realize it was none of those things. He was just stating a simple fact that becomes more obvious every day.

I love my job. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Every day brings a new challenge, a new obstacle to overcome. It is incredibly rewarding to meet those challenges and to overcome those obstacles. My work day flies by, and while that can be stressful, it’s much better than the alternative.
  2. I have time to spend with my family. I will unashamedly admit that a phenomenal part of my job is the time off. It’s not that I don’t enjoy working. It’s that I’ll never have to worry about having the day after Thanksgiving off to spend time with my family, and that’s a wonderful thing.
  3. I get to make a real impact on the lives of others. My wife is studying to be an Occupational Therapist. I am very proud of the fact that we are both in service based fields. At the end of my work day, I feel fulfilled. I feel that what I do matters.
  4. I have an audience, mandated by law, to listen to my jokes. How amazing is that? Many of them are not even good jokes, but they have to listen!
  5. I get to meet a lot of great people, including coworkers, but especially students. My students are awesome. If you are one of my students and you are reading this, you are awesome.
  6. Teaching is fun. If you are getting paid to do something fun, you've hit the jackpot.

Of course, it hasn't been an easy first year. I had a professor who said, “Teaching is easy. Teaching well is the hardest thing I've ever tried to do.” I was told by another professor that I would learn more in my first six months of teaching than my eight semesters of college. Here a few of those things I've picked up on:

  1. I am tired all the time. I get home, eat dinner, and crash.
  2. Balancing your time is really difficult. I have a new wife, a new job, a new apartment, a new cat (little Jerry Seinfeld Nagovan) and I’m still learning how to find a balance between those things.It can be really frustrating to not see immediate results. 
  3. I have to be patient and trust that my work will pay off.
  4. There are so many meetings. I think I have a meeting this week to discuss having a meeting about meetings.
  5. There is so much I don’t know. As with any field, there is just so much information out there, and not enough time to learn all of it.

The warning my high school Calculus teacher gave me was absolutely correct. Teaching is not what I thought it was. Tomorrow, it won’t be what I thought it was today. That is a wonderful thing. I really love learning, and I've chosen a profession in which I am constantly learning new things, and being pushed to become better. I feel extremely lucky.


  1. Awesome post Matt, your reflection on things you picked up over your first year brings me back to "2006" when I began. The big plus side is when your second year hits that tiredness seems to disappear and the balance beam of life seems to get much easier to walk on as well. The kids are talking about Ultimate Frisbee with the weather changing so were looking forward to seeing you out there again, heck you can even bring
    (little Jerry Seinfeld Nagovan) From Justin Lauer SPED BHS

  2. Wonderful first post. You already have a handle on what this is all about!