Tomorrow I start year 31 in the classroom. Here’s a list of the lessons I’ve learned over my 3 decades working with teens…
- Don’t fart in class
- If you ever fall, they will act like you’re old and broke a hip.
- If you feed them, then you have to always feed them.
- You should always feed them.
- Never get mixed up in their relationships. That means don’t give advice etc. it’s always problematic.
- Rule 5 does not prevent you from sitting kids next to their crush because 😈
- Give the kid a pencil, it’s not a big deal.
- Kids make mistakes, let them. It’s how they learn.
- Kids will fail. Again, it’s how they learn.
- Teaching does not make you a savior and some kids just want you to be their teacher. Period.
- If you change one life, you’ve been successful.
- You will change many lives.
- You will not know about the impact you have on most kids, but that does not mean it’s not profound.
- They are always listening (and watching).
- Do no harm. Adolescence is hard enough without you adding to the shit they deal with.
- You are the adult, remember that.
- I’m shocked that there are this many things I’ve learned.
- It takes years to become a solid teacher, but if you work at it, you will get there.
- Tell the kids what they are learning and why.
- The best partner you can find is another teacher… trust me on this one.
- Most PD is bullshit, but not all of it.
- You may not be able to tell the difference, so pay attention.
- Administrators are temporary, they come and go like the weather.
- Colleagues are also temporary.
- There are no new ideas, just recycled ones.
- Listen to music in your classroom. It makes you human, and it’s nice.
- Listen to lots of different music.
- Kids will always surprise you if you pay attention. They’re sorta amazing.
- They are kids and do shit kids do. It’s not personal, so don’t take it that way.
- If the kids get curious about something, then follow that curiosity. It’s where the most effective learning happens.
- Let them think they are pulling you off task and they will be curious all the time.
- This should have been first. Never lie to the kids. Someone else pointed out that kids can smell bullshit a mile away and it’s true. Tell the truth.
Above is the original list I posted on Twitter. Here are a few I’ve added since.
33. Listen to what students are telling you and remember that people use more than words to communicate.
34. You do not know everything so don’t be afraid to tell your students that you don’t know something and them show them how to find the information.
35. New teachers: be patient with older teachers, you don’t know what their years of experience have taught them. Try listening and you may learn something.
36. Experienced teachers: be patient with younger teachers, you don’t know what their years of experience have taught them. Try listening and you may learn something.
37. Don’t hover over students, they don’t like it. Squat down so you are at eye level when you talk to them at their desks.
38. When you are wrong, apologize and make the apology as public as the mistake.
39. Protect your mental and physical health. If you aren’t healthy, then how can you do any of the above?
40. Last, but not least, don’t forget to have a life outside of the classroom. Teaching is only a part of your life.