We've got the 411.
One thing you knew you could expect is that we'd have an article reminding you about what you would not expect.
1. You'll get the first-day jitters.
Teachers can teach for years and still be plagued by those little butterflies. Which means what? It's normal. Even if you don't expect it to be on year two or year 20.
You have a new group of kids and even if your job is to teach them, you're still going to care about what they think, at least on some level. After all, if your kids don't like you, you can have some serious problems. Or maybe it won't even be your fault, but you'll get an army of brats. Or maybe it's totally irrational, but you just feel jittery for the heck of it.
2. You'll dream about school…
…and you'll be missing an article of clothing. Every year with rare exceptions, you'll have a pre-school dream. These things come straight from your nerves.
Sure, the typical one is that something's missing. A skirt. Pants. Feather boa. You know. Whether you’re dreaming that you’re completely naked or being chased by alien zombies, the catastrophe-strikes-first-period dreams ain't goin' anywhere. Vulnerability, anyone?
3. You’re not just working with kids and bosses, but also parents and the whole community judging you.
Like it or not, you should probably pull down those Facebook posts of the time you were showing the world your keg stand skillz or getting your pong on. Some communities won't tolerate it, and it won't matter if you were legal at the time.
We've also heard teachers encouraged to buy alcohol outside of their county. Wouldn't want to run into Bobby's strict daddy-o while double-fisting your Smirnoff handles, are we right?
It all depends on your community though. In general, you're allowed to be human. Just be aware of how you're coming across.
4. You will hear adult humor.
And you'll hear it from both students and colleagues. Depending on the age group of kids you're teaching, you will most likely hear some pretty racy jokes. Middle school and up seems to be the halcyon days of body humor.
What's more is that sometimes your colleagues will also make these jokes, but theirs will be funny.
Well, if you're lucky.
5. One day you'll be at lunch and you'll have an epiphany.
As you look around at the other teachers, you'll notice that you are surrounded by some of the funniest, most caring and dedicated people in the world. They'll even start to feel like family.
Either that, or you'll find the solution to E = MC2. Or wait, did someone already do that?
6. At some point in your first year, someone will make you cry.
You're human, after all, and you're doing your best to be the best you can be. Just try to hold it in until you get home.
But don't shrug this one off and then curse us when it inevitably happens. Because guess what? Another unexpected thing is that you'll find support from some places you'd never have considered. Maybe it's the stuffy administrator you could have sworn didn't like you, or the parent who seemed really severe but sees your dedication to their child. Maybe it's a kid who draws you a picture of a pony, or maybe it's Shmoop. See, we knew you'd never curse us.
Wherever that support comes from, embrace it.
7. Going to bed early is a disease of teaching. Or maybe just adulting.
During the day, you're running at 220%, and when you get home, you'll crash, order take-out and dig yourself under the covers to watch something completely mindless. You will fall asleep and wake up around 11:00PM to…go to bed.
Basically: if you lie down, you'll fall asleep. Don't say we didn't warn you.
8. Time is your frenemy.
In fact, you'll find you can very efficiently use your time and wring all manner of productivity out of the minutes in your day.
You'll start grading papers at the doctor's office, on the weekends, at parties or waiting for your kid (or buddy) to come up to bat at his/her baseball game. Folks will see it and respect you for it. They'll strike up a conversation with you about the state of education today and you'll have yet another unexpected source of support. Or you'll tell them to shut the Shmoop up—you're grading.
9. You'll be called Mom or Dad.
Even if you don't plan on having kids, you'll get labeled as a parent, and you'll start feeling like one, too. You'll get heavily invested in your kids as a whole and build some strong relationships with individual students.
When the parental nomenclature pops out, usually as a Freudian slipsicle from the kid in question, best take it as a compliment. Really, that's the only way to feel okay about it.
10. Students will sometimes get a little too comfortable with you.
We've heard of students who shared all manner of things: they've asked teachers about sex and relationships, confessed pregnancies, and even given away the ending to Grey's Anatomy. There's not a teaching program out there that can prepare you for this moment.
Students may even come to you and tell you about other students who are doing drugs or self-harming. Prepare yourself and get cozy with your guidance counselors just in case students get cozy with you.
11. Kids have a different communication style than adults.
One day you're going to wake up and think, "My god, I'm getting old." Why? Because you'll realize that the lingo is changing, and how kids communicate is very different from the way you communicate.
And not just in actual spoken communication. Beyond that, they'll want to text you, bff you on SnapChat, poke you on Facebook, follow you on Instagram, or invite you to Tik Tok. Or by the time you read this, a million other things that are still embryos in the great big belly of the app world.
General rule of thumb: be aware of your school's policy and figure out how you want to deal before you find yourself getting tweets you wish you'd never seen.
12. You won't know where to set your boundaries at first.
You'll want to be close to your students because you're a genuinely caring human being, right? But you'll also want to keep a professional distance because you are a professional.
Figuring out your boundaries is one of the hardest things for new teachers, regardless of their age. But set limits, you must. It will take time to get the feel for where your comfort level is, but staking out some guidelines for the start will keep you out of situations you'd rather keep to your day-before-school nightmares.
13. Lastly, you won't believe how much you'll love your job.
Well, we hope, anyway.
Sure, it will be challenging and frustrating, but ultimately when you see a kid really "get it," you'll fall in love with the profession all over again. This doesn't mean you will have the same excitement from your first year when you're in your 5th year or even your 15th year. But it means that you're right where you need to be.
So when that surprise starburst of candy-kissed job love pops up, embrace it. And when you're feeling as down and out and far as possible from that sort of moment, just expect that it'll unexpectedly pop up, when you least expect it.
We just hope it's that poetic.