When my daughter was nine years old, she started her first figure skating class. She took to the ice right away and loved it.

Before long, we got her a private coach and after years of practice, she grew into a beautiful skater. The way she made gliding smoothly across the  ice, jumping high in the air, and spinning in one spot look elegant and easy was truly remarkable.

On one occasion, I was so inspired by watching my daughter skate that I thought I would give it a try. She made it look so easy and fun that surely I could pick it up in a flash. Let’s just say that I was not elegant and just standing up in skates was not easy. And those skates made my poor feet and ankles hurt!

What I failed to remember was how many years of falls, busted chins, frozen feet, and early mornings my daughter invested in her passion for skating. While she skated, I stayed wrapped up in a warm blanket on the sidelines just watching.

Teaching young children is like that too. You walk into the classroom all excited to teach. You LOVE young children. And every photo on Pinterest makes it look so easy.

But then the tears and snotty noses come. The kid that knocks over everyone else’s blocks and never misses a single day comes. The hours spent setting up that really cool bulletin board that no one notices comes. All the paintings looking like one brown smudge, the spilled juice, and the hours zipping coats and buttoning pants that are impossible for children to do by themselves comes.

No one that walks into teaching young children expects it to be like that. So along with these challenges comes overwhelm, frustration, disappointment, and exhaustion.

But just like skating took my daughter time and practice to master. Teaching is the same. If your expectation is that every child will love and listen to you, every project will be beautiful, and teaching will be easy – you are operating with faulty expectations.

But once you start to realize that teaching isn’t what you may have expected it to be, then you can either sit in the sidelines with a blanket or you can get busy becoming the teacher that truly makes a difference in the lives of the children you serve.

When you let go of those faulty expectations, you start to tune into the importance of nurturing relationships. You also start to dial into how young children learn best through play and exploration.

And you start building the right skills that you need to lead a classroom successfully through each day.

When you let go of faulty expectations, and choose to not sit on the sidelines but instead, grow and master your skills and understanding of how to reach and teach young children – there will come a day that someone will come to you and say, “you make it look so easy!”