When we look forward in life we have so many questions, and yet when we look back, answers seem so clear. Perhaps you have seen the popular video clip “How to Age Gracefully” where people of all ages give advice to their younger selfs.
As a school principal, I want two things: I want our students to thrive in a safe engaging environment and I want our staff to feel the positive energy that comes from a blend of compassion, hard work, learning, and collaboration. Teaching is an incredibly tough job. There are stories that break your heart. There is never enough time to prepare and plan as much as you hope. There is always a child you want to reach but can’t. The year is unbalanced with incredibly long days and nights followed by long vacations. There are joys (often known as teachable moments) where miracles happen and you can see the spark in a child’s eye as they understand something for the first time. There are smiles from youth where you know you have done more than educate their mind – you have touched their heart. It is an exhausting and rewarding job.
This year, our school has two student teachers completing their practicum. At our recent staff meeting, our teachers took the time to watch the video above, and then wrote their best advice to future teachers. Here is the advice from teachers (ranging from 1-30 years in experience):
Dear Future Teacher:
- Breathe Deeply.
- Hear each child’s story.
- Take care of yourself.
- Drink wine.
- Enjoy the small moments.
- Write down the funny things kids say to you.
- Leave your work at work especially on the weekend! Always make time for yourself.
- Stay strong even when things get tough.
- Always try to find the positive.
- Stay balanced. It’s hard but so important.
- Try to relax and go with the flow!
- Don’t sweat the little things.
- Be Flexible.
- Fake it until you make it.
- It get’s easier – and when it’s too easy – it’s time to learn something new. Keep relevant.
- Remember to take your prep time.
- Eat your lunch.
- It’s all about relationships. Invest your time in this and the rest will seem easier.
- You can’t help everyone and that’s ok.
- Keep smiling.
- Follow your instincts. You do know what to do. That’s how we learn.
- Listen to your gut.
- Have fun.
- You don’t have to fit it all in.
- Remember your friends and family are just as much of a priority (actually more).
- Take time for yourself. Put down the marking and enjoy a night out.
- Laugh all the time.
- Live in the moment. No matter what you plan, each day will be different.
- Keep smiling even when you don’t feel like it.
- Have fun. Kids love it when you are interested, engaged and happy.
- Take time to smile and celebrate the small successes.
- Ask questions.
- Every child learns differently. Every teacher teaches differently. Be true to you.
- Work smarter not harder. Some prep can be done while watching TV.
- Know what you do matters.
- Journal. Take photos. Before you know it, you will be an experienced teacher wondering where the time went.
- It’s ok to cry. Live. Love. Learn.
Great advice, from great teachers. I hope our student teachers look forward to an exciting career, finding joy in the moments that matter.