#UMWFG: Career 2 to Career 1

In Education, Encouragement, Happiness, Using my words for good #UMFWG on November 3, 2013 at 5:59 pm

I used to be an educator. I taught public school for four years after I earned by Master’s Degree in Middle Grades Language Arts and Social Studies. Before I left the classroom, I taught grades 4, 5, and 7.

I hated it. I LOVED my students, and they had great parents. My co-workers were, for the most part, intelligent, funny, and wonderful to work with. Administrators could be rather a mixed bag of both astonishingly capable and astonishingly nonchalant. But, my employer. Sheesh and good grief. Sheesh and good grief.

I’m no longer in the classroom, and I have no desire to go back to the classroom on a five-day a week, eight+ hours a day basis. I volunteer with high school students, and that usually fills my desire to help and teach young people. But, looking back, if I had known some things up front, I may have passed a more pleasant and meaningful time in the classroom–and maybe I would have stayed longer.

1. CELEBRATE. Most first-year teachers get caught up in a whirlwind of preparing classrooms, grading papers, getting into the schedule, and writing lesson plans. Stop each day–if only for a couple of minutes to celebrate where you are. Take before and after pictures of your classroom. Keep a one sentence journal of at least one good thing that happened that day.

Celebrate with your students in small ways. At my first school, some really awesome teachers would give their classes “silent sprinkles” or “spirit fingers.” It was just a small way to celebrate the small learning victories that your students truly will make everyday. Some concepts are really hard. In my field, grammar parsing is a notorious trap of confusion. I gave sprinkles every chance I got, and it really came to mean something good for my students.

Smiling students = smiling teacher = happier days

2. ERASE THE NEGATIVITY OF OTHERS. I clearly remember one of my coworkers trying to have a come-to-Jesus moment with me and reveal to me all the things that I “can’t” do. I listened quietly, simmered internally, and immediately went out and got a hat made that said


I didn’t realize that so many people in a work environment would be into crushing my spirit. But, that’s about what happened. And, I was unprepared for that so EVERYTHING affected me. The lunch lady who cursed me out in front of my students; the principal who called me into her office for “sitting wrong” during a meeting. More than shutting out that negativity, I should have let each of them know in person that, even though I was 24 years old, I was a professional and a human being. I was not there to make friends or be liked. If any of them had a personal problem with me, I would not have minded addressing it. As it was, I wore my emotions on my face and they each smelled blood, and went for the kill.

My advice to you: address problems like this head on, in person, and in no uncertain terms. Failing to address these problems will not make them go away.


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