The Best Teaching Advice I Ever Received

Like many other educators out there, I love my profession. I love creating engaging and challenging lessons. I love watching my students as they finally master a difficult concept. I even love my students (well, most of them). However, like many other educators out there, I also have my days. The days when I want to pull my hair out from frustration, cry until I have no tears left, and leave school and never return again. Those are the challenging days. Those are the days when it feels like I am constantly fighting a losing battle. And while those days are far and few in between, those are the days when I need this advice the most: save everything students give to you. Save all of the thank you letters. Save all of the silly drawings. Save all of the yearbook pictures. Save everything. Save everything in a file in the right-hand drawer of your desk. Save it there so that it is close by when you need it.

Because even though deep down in the pits of our hearts we really do truly love our job, it is usually the main source of stress in our lives. We go to bed at night sometimes not thinking and worrying about our own children (because we know they are safely nestled in their beds), but worrying about the safety and well being of our students, whom we also refer to as our children.

For those challenging days when our students push us beyond our limits, our districts require even more of us, or when we seem like we are desperately trying to accomplish the impossible and the weight of the entire world is pushing down on us, just reach right into the right-hand drawer of your desk. Read all of those letters, look at all of the pictures and drawings, and remember the positive impact you’ve made so far. Every single positive affirmation that you are where you are supposed to be is right there in that file.

To date, that is the best piece of teaching advice I’ve ever received. And while this piece of advice might not save me time or help me teach a difficult concept a new way, it is the one piece of advice that always serves as a reminder of why I got into teaching in the first place.

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  • Your suggestion is a great way to remember what's important, and that so many of the ways we make a difference are not obvious. On those days when nothing seems to be going well, we might still be making a difference with a kid, maybe because we talked to them in the hall, we told them to do their homework, or maybe we were just modeling how to deal with being overwhelmed. It is ultimately a profession of human engagement, a social profession, and for all the merits of the material, those thank you notes convey all the other intangibles we taught our students just by caring–regardless of how well the actual lesson turned out. Great post!

    • Thank you Coach Christopher. It is a profession of human engagement. Our students are our top priority.

  • This is solid advice because every new "plan" or "program" that "they" come up with won't replace the power of our relationships.

    • So true, Mrs. Spangler. It is all about the relationships that we establish.

  • Our kids used to write appreciation notes to all their teachers each spring, and it really helped us get through the year!

    • That is such a great idea. I am going to have my students do that this year.

    • Yes! It helps. I'm glad I'm not the only one who saves these letters.

  • What a heartfelt post. I keep all those special notes, but I rarely remember to pull them out to cheer myself up. Thanks for the great advice.

    • Those special notes are what keep us in the classroom, and the people who write them are the reason why we are there.


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