Last year, I watched my first cohort graduate from George Fox University. After spending a year and a half together (we have three cohort options in our program: one year, one and a half years, and two years), we felt more like a family than an academic cohort. We had shared our stories. We had shared our strategies. We had shared our lives together.

So, I decided I would send them off with a video about the 25 things I never told them they would deal with as teachers. A quick note: I do not recommend holding your bladder for hours on end. Seriously, find a buddy teacher who can watch two classes at once if you need to (thanks, Phyllis, for being my buddy teacher).

With that in mind, here are a 25 to know before entering one of the noblest professions in the world. That’s right. Twenty five.

Twenty-Five Things to Know About Becoming a Teacher

  1. During the first week of school, your feet are going to hurt.
  2. You will rediscover the joy of simple things, like smelly markers. Seriously. Smelly markers are some of the best things on the planet.
  3. You will have teacher nightmares the month before you start teaching. It’s totally normal. We all get them. I once had a dream that my entire classroom was submerged underwater after spending a week setting it up. Oh wait, that actually happened after a flashflood.
  4. Some of those nightmares will become a reality. Because you’re going to fail. Hard. But each mistake is another iteration closer to success. So, keep experimenting and remember to keep a growth mindset.
  5. You will learn to hold your bladder for hours on end. If this were an Olympic sport, teachers would be gold medalists. Again, I actually recommend the buddy system.
  6. You will cry in your car. Or at your desk. Or maybe even both. Teaching brings out the best and worst in your humanity. You will have moments when you wonder if you are cracked up for this gig. But you are. Really.
  7. You’re going to put on weight. It’s like the freshman fifteen, except it might be 20 or 25. The sooner you learn to set up boundaries for yourself and take care of yourself, the better off you’ll be.
  8. You will yell at your class. You will apologize. And your students will amaze you when they forgive you on the spot. This was honestly the hardest part for me. I remember thinking that teachers who really cared would never raise their volume. But then I did. It was humbling.
  9. You’re going to have amazing lessons and you’ll shock yourself with how awesome you are when you bring your A game. These moments will remind you of why you are going into this profession and why you will someday be amazing at your craft.
  10. You will leave your lunch at home and eat it from the vending machine. You’ll convince yourself that Cheez-Its and Cheetohs are a full portion of dairy. Okay, maybe that’s just me. Maybe you’re one of those people who eats kale and quinoa and if so, keep at it.
  11. You’re going to start carrying around hand sanitizer everywhere. Or, as the kids call it, “Hanitizer.”
  12. From this year forward, you are going to be stuck watching the same Bloodborne Pathogen video year after year after year. Welcome to the club.
  13. You’re going to fall asleep at 5 pm in the evening with a half-empty carton of Ben and Jerry’s and a massive pile of papers. That explains the freshman fifteen. But remember that a well-rested teacher is always more valuable than having perfect feedback on every assignment. Teaching can be a sacrificial job but martyrs are no good for students.
  14. You’re going to try to do too much and try too hard and that’s okay. Just give yourself permission to rest. Watch a movie. Read a book. Go out into nature. Take care of your health.
  15. Your students are going to amaze you with their work and their ideas and their growth
  16. You’ll feel like the luckiest person alive. And you are. But here’s the thing. So are your students. Because of you.
  17. You will worry about your students. You will have a student whose story breaks your heart and you will think about that child every day when you go home.
  18. When those moments happen, you will go back and you will listen to that child and affirm that child and teach that child and love that child even when they are difficult. Because you are a teacher and that’s what we do.
  19. Someday the kids in your class will come back and invite you to their college graduation and hand you a thank you note and you’ll cry in your car just like you did in the first year of teaching. Did I mention that teaching is a job with blood, sweat, and tears?
  20. Even on your worst days, you are going to think critically and promote justice and transform the teaching practice.
  21. You will inspire students to be better people because of the lessons you teach and the example you show.
  22. You will empower them to be deeper thinkers because of the epic projects you do.
  23. Your students will feel safe and loved and challenged.
  24. They will be the makers who build a better future.
  25. The world will be better place. Because of you.