Ten Things That Teaching Has Taught Me

image1. I have more patience than I ever believed possible. As somebody who possessses a nasty temper when pushed, I’ve surprised myself by usually being able to remain calm and speak in a slow, positive tone even when faced with the most challenging of behaviours. Usually.

2. I am capable of adapting to unforeseen circumstances at the last minute.

3. I am never too old to be able to learn new things and develop skills, and I enjoy doing so.

4. There is no such thing as stupid. Intelligence is not always measured by levels and grades. I’ve worked with thousands of students that were deemed to be academically mediocre who were superb instrumentalists, athletes, artists and designers.

5. I don’t like sitting down and listening to other people talk for long periods of time. I’ve always considered myself to be a visual learner, preferring to read instructions and follow them, but sitting through what must be hundreds of hours of meetings and training days has made me realise that I much prefer to be up and actually doing something.

6. After delivering numerous discussions on all sorts of personal subjects, there is no topic that I am embarrassed to talk about.

7. Respect is something to be earned, not demanded. I always expect to be treated with manners regardless of someone’s age, but in the early stages of my career I believed that simply standing at the front of a classroom warranted respect from all of my students automatically. Now, I realise that true and genuine respect will come from consistency, high expectations, praise, encouragement and having boundaries.

8. It is important not to compare yourself to anyone else. When I saw the amount of work my colleagues often put into seemingly daily routines, I often used to feel like I wasn’t doing enough. Now, I know that, like my students, we all have different rates that we work at, and prioritise differently… and that’s ok.

9. Everyone has a story, and I’ve tried to learn not to make judgements until I know what that story is.

10. The work/life balance is more important than anything. After watching hundreds of teachers sacrifice their personal lives, their families and their health because of the job over the years, I now make sure that I work to live, not live to work.


What about you? What has your job taught you about yourself?

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54 thoughts on “Ten Things That Teaching Has Taught Me

  1. It is interesting to discover things about ourselves that we didn’t realise, Nursing has taught me that I am capable of dealing with tricky situations in a calm and controlled manner, and that I am nowhere near as squeamish in reality as I thought!!! πŸ™‚

  2. I’ve learned that most big companies you work for have a horribly broken HR system that allows abuse on a scale I though was unheard of since the 80s.

    I’ve learned that nothing is just going to land in my lap, if I want it I need to either work for it or go and take it.

    I’ve learned that respect for a position should not automatically infer respect of the person holding that position.

    I’ve learned that some of the oldest people in my workplace can act like some of the biggest children.

  3. Over the past year, as more and more work has been thrown my way, I’ve had to learn patience and thankfulness. Patience that the work will eventually get done, even when it seems overwhelming, and thankfulness that I have employment and work with wonderful people. The day runs positive if I can keep those two words close by.

  4. I have learned that bubbles makes anything better. I can have a child that is so mad at me for looking in his ears, but I can blow a bubble and the world is okay again once again. I have learned that children are so much smarter and wiser than we give them credit for, and if you just take the time to listen, you can learn a great deal from a child!!!!

  5. Definitely patience! I work in sales so I sometimes have to restrain myself from saying certain things to customers and co-workers. I’ve learned some people don’t grow up. Co-workers who are older than me act worse than my 9-year-old son! My biggest failure in life will be if my son ends up like some of the people I work with. I agree with your number 2 and 5 a lot.

  6. 8. I have colleagues like that and I used to be like that, but I’m a grown up now and work isn’t everything. I think this is what 30 plus years of procurement have taught me, although I suspect I’d have been a lot happier if I’d learned it 30 years ago. It’s a lesson some people never learn, sadly.

  7. My job has taught me that I really need to write full time. I’m better as my own boss, and should be away from annoying people who get on my last nerve! πŸ™‚

  8. The many different jobs I’ve had have taught me what I don’t want to do, that’s for sure πŸ™‚ But I’ve always tried to learn something from each experience, otherwise I’d just be wasting time. So I suppose they have taught me to apply myself as best I can, no matter what I’m doing.

  9. I nodded and then reached 9 and 10 and yep, 100% with you. Leaping to judgement is so detrimental to everyone. Though I might question 7: having met you and heard the accent, which reminds me of an utterly terrifying French mistress (that sounds bad – she taught me French) I had in year 9 (the third form back in my day) I’m sure you commanded instant respect Suzie just by saying ‘morning’. I sat up straight, just reading this post.

  10. I think I became a better person when I became a teacher. It wasn’t really my dream job but like you, I also learned a lot from it. Thank you for this post.

  11. I taught in the public school for thirty years and you pretty much summed it all up. I worked in schools where the childhood poverty rate was 70%+ and the community around the schools where I taught was dominated by violent street gangs.

  12. I think number 4 is especially important! In an age where so much importance is put on the core subjects, it’s brilliant to recognise that not everyone can come out on top in the academic subjects x

  13. I retired from teaching after 33 years last year (primary, secondary and adult sectors over the course of my career). I agree with all of the above for all sectors – sadly, I wasn’t always able to carry the patience (not a natural characteristic) through to life outside the classroom. Maybe the demands there used it all up? Currenting finishing first draft of school based novel that will, with luck, get it all out of my system! Refreshing to see someone else dare to mention no 8 – the “stay at school all hours” culture was not healthy!

    • Thanks Jessica! I quit teaching two years ago and very occasionally do a bit of supply, but there is no way I would ever go back in the classroom full-time ever again haha! How are you enjoying your retirement?

      • Me too. I taught for 30 years and when I left, I knew I’d never go back to be tortured by my own country’s leaders again. I’d rather go back in the Marines and fight in Afghanistan than go back into an American classroom where teachers are treated like trash by the extreme right and neo-liberals. Teachers are getting shafted from both ends of the political spectrum at the same time. The only friends teachers seem to have are other teachers and the parents of children that appreciate all the hard work they put in to teach their children and that, of course, is a majority of the parents because polls/studies keep telling us that more than 60 percent of parents love their local schools that their children attend. But the barrage of negative media focused on so-called bad schools and lazy teachers causes those same parents to think that those alleged problems exist but not in the school their children attend – just all the other schools in the country.

        But if you go to a state capital or Washington DC, it’s like teachers are the scum of the earth and are blamed for everything: poverty, crime, global warming, crop losses, sun spots, lack of rain, unemployment, the national federal debt, credit card debt, prison populations, etc.

      • It’s like that too here in the UK – we’re seemingly responsible for every bad thing that goes on in a child’s life… Every single day I see things on social media that slag the teaching profession off…

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