Time flies. I know, how cliché, but it’s the truth. It’s already the end of August and waves of parents all across the nation can be seen jumping for joy as their children head back to their classrooms. It also means that the 3.5 million public and private school teachers in the United States are also returning to school.* Many of them have spent the summer diligently preparing for the upcoming school year, thoughtfully planning out lesson plans and projects, preparing their classrooms and preparing themselves for the year ahead. Many of these teachers have also spent a significant amount of time and money on continuing education, making sure that they are on top of all of the latest learning trends, philosophies and technologies.
But while staying current, or perhaps even ahead of the game, is imperative, it occurred to me that there are ideas that are simply timeless. Some may seem unassuming or even rudimentary, but these are ideas that are as essential today as they will be 50 years from now.
These lessons of enduring wisdom and candor from some of our very own LifeChangers might serve as some well needed inspiration for the millions of educators re-opening their classroom doors.
Teaching is the hardest, most rewarding job there is. It is also often a thankless job. My advice to fellow teachers is to never give up and to surround yourself with positive influences and people. It is also important to make connections with your students. When they know you care about them they become more invested in what you are trying to teach them. There needs to be a mutual level of respect. The best piece of advice I ever got was to ask for help when I need it, and never lose sight of why I chose this profession. It’s all about the kids and it really does take a village. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. – Amy Doolin, 2014-2015 LCOY Nominee, Pennichuck Middle School
It’s important to laugh every day. I teach Middle School, which can be challenging, so those silly moments just keep you going. – Judy Bremner, 2013-2014 LCOY Nominee, Sawgrass Springs Middle School
Great teachers create a classroom environment based on kindness, respect, and a strong work ethic. Great teachers understand that they are not imparters of wisdom but instead facilitators to the children as the students go through their learning journey. Great teachers instill in their students the essential idea that everyone can learn but that we all do it at a different pace and through different ways in our brains. Students are encouraged to explore the multiple intelligences and discover for themselves how they best learn and become empowered to take control of their own learning. Great teachers also constantly question how lessons went and what they can do to improve them the next time. – Ann Elise Record , 2014-2015 LCOY Nominee, Hillside School
A great teacher is not afraid to learn right alongside their students. By discovering together a teacher can model excitement, plus learning and application methods of new material to their students. – Julie Ahern, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 LCOY Nominee, Andrew Cooke Magnet School
Don’t hop on every bandwagon just because it is the latest thing – be willing to try new ideas, but don’t throw out what works. – Stannye Meads, 2014-2015 LCOY Nominee, Rexford/Longfellow Elementary School
I try to structure my classroom so that it is a safe place and they know they will be treated with respect. Maybe for that class time, science is the escape from what is on their mind. I try to keep each day as a new day and not carryover the negative from the day before and try to bring in the positives whenever I can. – Andrea Appleman, 2014-2015 LifeChanger of the Year 1st Runner-up, Ada Junior High School
The characteristics of a great leader are passion, tenacity, effective communicator, and relationship builder. Teachers are the lifeline of developing thriving communities and critical thinkers. The aforementioned skills equips educators to prepare students to achieve in every field of human endeavor. – William Blake, 2013-2014 LifeChanger of the Year 2nd Runner-up, Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School
You will have under paid days and you will have over paid days. Do not get into education if you expect to be rich financially, but if you want to get rich emotionally, then it is for you. – Mike McEachern, 2014 – 2015 Grand Prize Winner, Hargrave High School
* 2015 Fast Facts, National Center for Education Statistics.