insights from a daughter of the King, teacher, farmer's wife, and Mommy


Lessons from the first 10 years: Teacher Life

A teacher doesn't set out to do half of the the things they do.

They don't have a check list with hug a child, listen to their problems, help them understand.

It usually includes normal things like sweep, pay bills, call so and so, grade papers, update website.

But every day they go to work to do lots of things that aren't on the list.

These things were not even on my radar when I started teaching.  

I finished 10 years of teaching yesterday.

I shut the door and walked out (after moving my classroom for the 5th or 6th time).  

I think back to 10 years ago when I got the call that said will you accept this job as a 7th grade Math teacher and I hit my knees.  Yes, I squeaked out.  I didn't want to teach math.  I wasn't sure about 7th grade.  I didn't know what in the world I was doing.  And it was July. So, I had to get ready.  Lord, bless those students I had that first year.   We learned together. They taught me so much.  College does not prepare you.  

So, here is my list of top 10 things I've learned in 10 years of teaching.  

1.  Don't take it personally.  There are going to be students who cuss you, who call you fat and other names, who just don't like you.  Walk away, hold up your head, and keep on keeping on.  

2.  Advocate for your students and for your classroom.  Speak up for them!

3.  Genuinely listen.  When your students are in groups, listen.  When your students are eating lunch, listen.  When your colleagues give you advice, listen.  When parents are expressing concerns, listen.  Don't be preparing your answer.  Don't be thinking about what is next or what's for supper.  Listen.  

4.  Model behavior.  If you expect kids to pick up trash, pick up trash.  When I first started teaching I would get so upset when students left trash or didn't clean up.  And I'll never forget the first time I walked up to a student's desk that had trash on it and said "can I throw that away for you?"  It was like really you'd that?  And then that student asked another student.  Model behavior whether is picking up trash, talking about others, taking notes, or social media.  No one told me they would watch EVERY thing I do.  

5.  Let it go.  Ask yourself what will this anger change?  Some things aren't worth arguing about.  Forgot your pencil, here have this one.  Don't have paper, here have this.  

6.  Be honest.  I'm pretty sure adolescents are the best lie detectors there are because of the fact that they spend a lot of time figuring out how to lie and get away with it.  Be honest with your students and with yourself.  

7.  Students forgive much easier than adults.  If you mess up, they forgive and by the next day have forgot.

8.  Don't take it home.  I can't tell you how many times I've packed up my bag, walked it to the car, and there is sat, until I carried it back into school.  

9.  Teaching is the easy part.  The countless meetings, meetings about meetings, paper work, surveys, insurance representatives, phone calls, emails, and the list goes on.  They get in the way.

10.  Don't give way to the complaining and the negativity.  It's easy to get drawn in at the lunch table, in the hall way, at the third meeting of the week.  Don't do it!  Change the subject, tell a funny story from class, talk about the weather...anything!  Because once you start, it's hard to stop and it eats at you.  

Looking forward to the next 10 years!!  I love my job and have been blessed with 10 years of amazing students, colleagues, and parents.  

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