I’ve been doing this teaching thing for a few years now and in that time I have had many varied roles. Along the way I’ve had lows, but also many highs…..and I’ve also learned a thing or two (or 100!). These are the top 100 things I’ve learned about being a teacher.
1. If you see a toilet, go or you may not get the chance again.
2. Choose your battles. I may not have always agreed with my administration’s decisions, but not everything needs to be challenged….it can be exhausting.
3. Never do teaching for the money.
4. Prepare well for your lessons as it helps make the day run much smoother.
5. Set goals with your kids that you and they can achieve.
6. Always take one warm piece of clothing….or maybe that’s just me, but I’m always cold.
7. Have a spare pair of clothes….you never know when you will get paint, glue or bodily fluids on your clothes.
8. Also have a spare pair of shoes.
9. Pay attention to your emotions and thoughts, don’t let yourself get burnt out.
10. Ask for help.
11. ALWAYS stay calm, no matter what.
12. Have a balance between life and work.
13. Be pleased with the little successes.
14. Build relationships with your kids and their parents.
15. Never compare yourself to other teachers (in a better or worse context).
16. Be brave and make changes if you need to.
17. Always try and take away and implement one idea from attending professional development.
18. Ask for feedback.
19. Find the tools that will help to simplify your life.
20. Model desirable behaviour.
21. Use positive language to encourage positive behaviour.
22. Take part in the teaching community, especially if you’re in a regional location.
23. Don’t reinvent the wheel, get inspiration from the internet.
24. Read books for pleasure and to learn.
25. It takes time to get better at teaching, every year and every new group of kids helps you learn how to do things better.
26. Accept praise and say “thank you.”
27. Don’t choose anger.
28. You are not defined as a person by being a teacher.
29. Have a social life.
30. Ask yourself why the lesson didn’t go well.
31. Your opinion about how things work in the school is important.
32. Everyone has been a beginning teacher, we get it!
33. A bit of humour in the class can go a long way.
34. Speak about your teaching experiences with other teachers, it may help you and them.
35. Always remember what brought you to teaching.
36. If you have an idea and you think it’s not going to work…. just do it anyway 😉
37. Don’t be afraid of glitter or getting dirty.
38. Believe in yourself, if you want to improve…you can.
39. Pay attention to the kids in your class that fly under the radar.
40. When you’re feeling down or overwhelmed, look at funny photos.
41. If you have parents offering to help, then use them.
42. Back up your electronic school stuff and teaching resources….and often.
43. Sometimes it’s okay to give a worksheet or have quiet independent time.
44. Use your DOTT (duties other than teaching) time wisely.
45. Don’t have too many points on your ‘to do’ list. Make them achievable.
46. Remember, every job has its down side and teaching is no different.
47. Know and understand your boss so that he/she can be of benefit to you.
48. Keep all of the receipts for the stuff you buy and claim them as an expense at tax time.
49. Offer to help a colleague if you see they are struggling.
50. Mistakes are allowed, learn from them.
51. Have a plan in place for early finishers.
52. Get outside as much as possible.
53. Incorporate early morning fitness activities to start the day energized.
54. Don’t believe everything you read about teaching.
55. Be fair and consistent and create a belonging classroom environment.
56. Art and craft activities in the class can be so much fun, but they can also be lots of work to set up and sometimes extremely messy. Don’t let that turn you off.
57. It’s okay to take mental health days.
58. Purchase a good hat for lunchtime/recess duty, especially if you live in the Pilbara.
59. Invest in a good moisturiser/sunscreen.
60. Be a mentor, or search for a mentor if you need one.
61. Learn from your mistakes and look forward, not backward.
62. When teaching children how to read it’s important to begin with sounds first.
63. Arrive early enough to give yourself time to prepare, having to rush all day makes you feel stressed and overwhelmed.
64. Direct systematic instruction in synthetic phonics during the early years of schooling is essential for teaching children to read.
65. Be thankful for your education assistant and let them know you appreciate their support and help.
66. Gain the full attention of the class before you begin giving instructions.
67. Students enjoy reflecting on their learning.
68. When helping a child correct a reading error don’t say, “look at the picture” or “guess from the first letter.” This does not help children learn to read. Teach through the error.
69. It can be hard work, but oh so rewarding as well.
70. This always reminds me to not buy in to the drama that can unfold at school. Remember…..you have more important things to focus on, rather than all the daily dramas that seem to take place for some people!
71. Every student is capable of learning.
72. Using whole language to teach children to read doesn’t work.
73. There are so many ways you can use washi tape in your classroom.
74. When choosing books to use with children learning to read, select books that are decodable.
75. Just say “NO.” You don’t have to say “yes” to everything that you’re asked to do.
76. Being organised at home will help you cope with the demands of teaching.
77. Take healthy food options or you may find yourself snacking on junk all day.
78. Games are a fun way to learn and rehearse taught skills.
79. Be realistic, you don’t have to do everything.
80. Not every resource needs to be laminated, save time and print resources on durable card.
81. Ask for resources (from parents, from the school, from charities…). If you don’t ask you won’t get. And the worst that can happen is they’ll say “no.”
82. Students don’t need to recite the times tables to learn them. They can also make a times tables booklet which helps kids to understand the concept and they’re fun to make as well.
83. Remember to encourage.
84. You don’t need to mark every bit of student work.
85. If you think a child you know is in need of specialist intervention, then help make it happen.
86. Pause and think before you speak or react.
87. Try to stay on top of the paperwork and have a system in place for dealing with it.
88. There are signs to look for that indicate a student may have a learning disability, such as dyslexia.
89. Remember to smile.
90. Don’t listen to advice from non-teachers about how to teach.
91. In order for kids to be able to read, they need to be proficient in the reading skills and these skills need to be explicitly taught.
92. Incorporate relaxation and silent time.
93. Not everyone will like you, and that is okay.
94. Team teaching with a teaching buddy can be fun and rewarding.
95. Have a go to list of classroom energizers that you can use to re-engage your kids if they get off track or need a break.
96. It’s okay to change the layout of your classroom and remove desks and trays.
97. Trying new things keeps you inspired.
98. Using mini whiteboards is a great way to have all students engaged when you’re working on the mat.
99. Be transparent and let your students know what you’re looking for and why.
100. HAVE FUN!
So what have you learned about being a teacher? What did I miss? I would love for you to let me know in the comments, and then I can learn from you!
I like what you have written, though I feel it would have been better to have made it into 2 parts. This is toolong to sit and read one go.
“Never do teaching for the money.” I agree and that is why I only teach ‘disengaged students’ on a one on one basis. If I wanted to make money I should teach 10 to 30 children at a time like they do here in my country. But I choose to teach one on one.
One very important discovery is that I learn from each child I have taught over the 11 years I have been teaching these ‘disengaged’ students. As such, I am not just a teacher but a student as well.
Hi Mel, the list you made is just excellent!!!
I identify in every notion. Your tips are very useful to me!
Iam a teacher of English in Argentina, very far from where you are but
it is nice to know you are always trying to help us in this beautiful job we have.
I am also a mother of 7 children who are now adults so as you can see I have lots of experience.Never too much!!!!
Wow Argentina, I love hearing where readers are in the world, so thanks for sharing. I’m glad you like my article and the things I’ve learned. I’m sure with having 7 kids of your own you would have lots of wisdom and tips to share 🙂
Thanks for reading and your comments
Thank you for sharing these. I started my teaching career in a foreign country teaching English as a foreign language and two years later started teaching science at high school level. All I can say is that it has been a roller coaster ride, emotionally and otherwise. The best thing I did for myself was to enroll for a PGCE and have since learned so much, especially connecting the dots of the what, the why and how much.
I can testify to having learned the importance of the following:
97. Oh the fun of trying something new.. when it works its like .. joy of joys !!!
99 – Oh the drama of not communicating your expectations clearly and simply is so not worth the headache afterward.
100 -I do tend to take myself serious at most times, so I have had to work extra at learning to calm down and have fun..
57 – taking mental health days … I learned that one the hard way …
I have learned that I teach simply for the love of it. That alone makes all the other stuff seem like part and parcel … though at times I find myself biting my tongue when all I wanna do is scream… hahaha
Happy teaching everybody…
I agree…it has certainly been a roller coaster ride for me as well. Thanks so much for your thoughts and sharing them with us….have fun on the journey….and scream away if you need 🙂
im from Nepal
i really liked your sharing
and because we r starting new session soon
these things will surely helpp me
thank you for sharing