3 Pieces of Game-Changing Advice for New and Mid-Career Teachers

The most intelligent people in the world know that they don’t know it all, so they are constantly asking questions, and learning new things. New and Mid-Career teachers would do well to practice this philosophy. Why, because as a teacher, if you are not constantly learning new things, you are not growing. The more you know, the more you can teach to your students. I don’t profess to be a guru, but like most veteran educators, I have seen a lot, experienced a lot, and learned a lot. In this piece, I would like to give 3 pieces of game-changing advice to new and mid-career teachers.

Remember that you make a difference. At times, the teaching profession and all of the criticism that it receives may lead you to believe that you are not appreciated and that you are not making a difference. During your career, parents will question your pedagogical methods, students will disrespect you, and education administrators will rub you the wrong way. Don’t get discouraged, because if you give it some time, you will see these scenarios flip.

The parent that was questioning your teaching methods will one day wake up and say, “When did my child get so smart,” and hopefully thank you for the part that you played in it. The child that disrespects you will be the child that writes you a letter after they graduate from college thanking you for instilling discipline in them and teaching them how to respect others. And that education administrator that seemed like they were riding you so hard, maybe they see potential in you and want to bring out your best.

So even when things seem dire, and you want to run for the hills and become a car salesman, stop and have faith in the equalizing and retrospective effect that time can have. I promise you, things will get better. Teaching is a calling, and like any calling, the path may not be all peaches and cream, but it’s rewarding.

Follow the “Golden Rule.” As human beings, we teachers are naturally emotional creatures. So when a parent, child or colleague disrespects you, your natural tendency may be to get upset. Instead, follow the “Golden Rule” and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This may be difficult, but its necessary.

So when a colleague throws you under the bus, don’t retaliate;  kill them with kindness. They weren’t strong enough to own up to their shortcomings or take responsibility for their own actions. And that’s fine. Treat them with kindness and stay professional. This keeps your mind, body, and soul free from the negative emotions and hormones that come with holding a grudge.

As my mom used to say, holding a grudge and staying bitter, is like drinking poison and expecting for the other person get sick or die. I am not saying that you should forget what they did, it means don’t get bogged down in a pit of misery, and let it affect you as a person or affect your integrity. Of course, you will be mindful of this person’s character, but not burdened by the consequences of a professional feud.

Your students and colleagues don’t have to like. Sometimes teachers become too concerned with how they are viewed by their students and their colleagues. Although there is nothing wrong with establishing and maintaining healthy results with those around us, this is not always possible. Sometimes people won’t like you, and it usually says more about them than it says about you.

It is perfectly reasonable for students to dislike their teachers and in some ways, it is developmentally appropriate. Some naturally resent the power differential that exists in the typical student-teacher relationship. As far as your colleagues go, it is commonplace for other educators to pass judgment on you without cause. Maybe they don’t like your approach to teaching or your optimistic goody two shoes demeanor?

Don’t sweat it, be yourself. People make their own decisions about their affinity for other people, and nothing is sadder when someone goes out of their way to make you love them. As a matter of fact, it can be downright creepy.

Take advantage of shortcuts. No one would take a route to work that is 15 minutes slower more than the fastest one. That would be a waste of valuable time. We only get 24 hours in a day, so maximizing our time is essential. As a teacher, this means finding ways to work smarter not harder. Why write a lesson plan from scratch when they are plenty available online for free. You are not plagiarizing, as people publish them in the hopes that teachers like you will use them. You may have to make a few modifications, but that won’t take much time.

The same goes for mundane tasks like assessment, classroom management, etc. Whatever the task, there is an app for that. Just make sure that you are comfortable with, and know how to use the technology. If you take my advice, you can make teaching a 50 hour or less job, and prevent yourself from burning out.

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