As our school does to end each school year this week we had a party to celebrate our outgoing retirees. These teachers were each kind and brave enough to take the stage and share some of their best advice for younger teachers. There were more than a few tears as they spoke.
I wish I had heard their message earlier in my career. Their messages were so powerful that as soon as I got to my car I grabbed the back of an envelope and a half sharpened pencil from my packed boxes and immediately wrote down all that I could remember.
Their advice will be useful on the inevitable difficult days in the future.
Below are the 5 main takeaways from their talks. Their advice will outlast trends or technology.
1. Appreciate How Fast The Years Pass
Each teacher spoke about their early careers with detail. This really struck me as them having it very clear in their mind. Meaning it didn’t seem all that long ago to them.
Each time I look at baby pictures of my 3-year old son I am reminded how fast time goes and look around if I am the only one who feels this way and ask, “How do I slow this down?”
The best answer I’ve found is being as present as possible each moment with what I am doing. Focusing on and enjoying one thing at a time.
2. Have Fun
It sounded pretty fun hearing stories about overnight lock-ins at our junior high. It’s easy to get sucked into the world of education acronyms and data but take time to have fun while at work.
I don’t personally think this “just happens.” I know I need to mentally and physically prepare myself for the day each morning with my morning routine and seek out opportunities for fun and humor during the day.
Your colleagues and your students can both be opportunities for having fun while at work.
At least 2 of the retirees mentioned lowering our barriers at work and letting people in and this is important if we want to have fun.
3. Take Care of Yourself
This is a common theme on this site. I smiled when our retirees said this.
Maybe they are secret ProsperousTeachers.com readers?
Teaching can EASILY crush your health. It once crushed mine.
We must eat right, exercise, meditate, and find time to relax.
Teaching in our life can easily be like a guest in your house that will keep overtaking more food and space until you are backed into a corner lashing out. Watch out for it creeping beyond its boundaries.
4. Appreciate Your Colleagues
Every teacher that spoke talked about the importance of their colleagues in getting through tough times.
These tough times included tough personal times and tough academic times (teaching a new subject, grade level, curriculum, etc.).
You most likely work with some amazing people. Appreciate them and tell them you appreciate them.
5. Love Your Students
Do your students seem different than what kids were like when you were their age?
Do students seem increasingly challenging to teach? You aren’t alone feeling that.
Your students are simply products of their world and the world in general. And the world is an ugly place. At least if you turn on the tv and see the ugliness everywhere. Of course, that ugliness seeps into their lives and they bring it into our classrooms.
As teachers, it is on us to push back against that ugliness and replace it with a positive message and love.
What is the best, timeless advice for teachers that you have heard?
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