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Students & Communities

The Two Things That Got Me Through My First Year of Teaching

Miguel Solis (Dallas-Fort Worth ‘09) never planned to be a teacher. He shares what got him through his first year, and why he is committed to serving his community as a lifelong career.

What I Learned in My First Classroom

Miguel Solis’s first year of teaching was the hardest job he’s ever had. He found incredible support from the TFA network, fellow teachers, and students. A decade later, his experience in the classroom continues to fuel his passion for education.

It never crossed my mind that I would ever be a public school teacher. 

My father was a public school teacher and I remember vividly being a young boy, waking up in the middle of the night, and catching a glimpse of my dad going over his lesson plans making sure that he had the perfect lesson ready.

Being a first-year teacher is, by far, the hardest job that I believe anyone can ever have. And that was compounded by the fact that I'd also lost my father, and really the main influence into me deciding to pursue public education to begin with. There were two things that got me through that difficult experience. The first were the words from my dad, which was that, "when you pass away, there are only a few things that you'll be able to leave on this earth. The thing that you will be able to leave behind is the fact that you made a difference in the lives of others." And so that, coupled with my students welcoming me back to class, knowing how much grief I was in, and helping me get through those tough times, were the two biggest reasons why I decided to continue my time in the classroom. And in some ways, have fueled my work ever since.

There were a ton of challenges as a first-year teacher. Challenges around making sure that I had the right material that I needed to be teaching, challenges around whether I had the resources necessary to make sure I could reach every student. And I worked with my Teach For America coach and Teach For America colleagues at the school that I taught at to make sure that I had the right plans, that I had the right resources necessary to make an impact on my kids.

We consistently have to reflect on that, because the challenges are not going anywhere.

That's one of the major reasons why I decided to run for the school board, because I felt like issues like that needed to be addressed from a systemic standpoint, and to work to pursue those ideals in solidarity with, literally, tens of thousands of other people across the United States.

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