Thursday, May 7, 2009

What I've Learned

I've been teaching for 14 years, and I've learned there is always more to learn. Some trends in education come back around over the years, and others disappear as new research brings forth new ideas. You have to be a very flexible person to be a teacher, able to bend with the times, the changing landscape of education, and the changing demands of the job. It's not easy, but it's never boring. I always tell people that a teaching career is a long-distance race, not a sprint - you have to pace yourself. It's a fantastic career, but not a job you should consider as a fall-back position (as in, "If nothing else, I can always teach"). If it's not in your heart to be a teacher as your life's work, you probably shouldn't do it.

The field of education is getting more complex by the minute. Federal and state laws and regulations, district requirements, etc... are always changing. Public education is very diverse in its opportunities for teachers and students. It's not equal for all, or even adequate for all, that's for sure. But there are so many reasons to believe in public education and to be a part of a teaching staff that reaches out to students to help them find themselves in this world.

Sometimes I am tired. Sometimes I get disgusted. That's the nature of the job. It's tough. But sometimes I have those moments in the classroom that make it all worthwhile.

I live for those moments. They keep me going.

I am always proud to say I am a public school teacher. (Don't I sound like an ad for NJEA?).


  1. I've started noticing the same points that you made, re: always learning, the job always changing or the "pendulum swinging back and forth."

    Looking from outside in, its seems immeasurably difficult to be a teacher. I hope that I'm at least half as good as my best teachers (or maybe even the worst).

  2. It does sound daunting. The exhaustion I believe. Also, you mention flexibility. So as a teacher you have to be willing to learn too, and make adjustments. As Mark mentioned-from the outside in, the job sounds tough, but you make it sound worthwhile, even with the healthy dose of realism.

  3. I agree about teaching should not be a fall back position. I think many people feel as though teaching is a job that have good hours and summers off. But to be an effective teacher this is not the case. Teaching demands long hours and in order to put in long hours it must be much deeper than a fall back job. I am not a teacher yet but you make it seem like a very tough but very enjoyable job overall. Great job.

  4. It takes something to keep in touch with what you love about teaching when dealing with the frustrations of the public school system. It seems crucial to find ways to remember that teaching is a vocation -- not just a career -- to stay optimistic and not get resigned.