To Put in your Back Pocket…

Here’s the compilation from a few months ago that we, as a group of student teachers, put together as a pump up for burn-out moments in our first few months.  If you’re a new teacher (or a teacher at any point in your career), feel free to bookmark this for times of need as a reminder to yourself of why you push so hard.  Though you may not believe it right now, deep down, you know it’s worth it.  Here’s why:

We want to teach in order to:

  1. Inspire students and ourselves every day (because you can forget that at a desk job).
  2. Explore the world around us.
  3. Change lives by showing students they can do more than they ever thought they could.
  4. Emulate that teacher that we loved in school, who inspired us and who made school matter!
  5. We all remember that one special teacher that was more than a teacher: who knew us as an individual and was genuinely interested in our lives/interests/etc. and who ultimately inspired us to be teachers. I want to be that person for someone else.
  6. Form the student as a whole person, not just teach them content and leave it at that.
  7. Make a difference and change the future…seriously. Even just a little bit.
  8. Get students to believe in themselves. To get excited about knowledge. To get excited about progress.  To get excited about themselves, each other, and what we’re doing in the world.
  9. Let students know that they have DIGNITY and they have a VOICE and that they are IMPORTANT to this world

“They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

–Carol Buchner

Our student teaching goals from the beginning of the semester (…how are we doing?):

  1. To KEEP BELIEVING in myself and my mission
  2. To learn about my individual strengths and weaknesses—and to learn how to best approach tackling those weaknesses
  3. To become smoother and more confident at classroom management
  4. To become proficient, efficient, and confident at lesson planning for any kind of lesson
  5. To incorporate formative assessments all over the place
  6. To create meaningful summative assessments too
  7. To learn about each student in my classes
  8.  To keep a student teaching journal.
  9. “I want to get it–I want to see the in’s and out’s and understand what it means to be a teacher.  I wont be the best and not nearly sufficient in most areas of what teaching fully means, but I want to get it and be able to act on that understanding.”
  10. Remember to balance school and other aspects of life. Yes, teaching is important and needs to be the primary priority, but if you are burnt out your teaching will suffer, so make sure to make time for YOU! Remember, we’re human beings NOT human doings.
  11. Never underestimate the power of being nice! I don’t mean be permissive, but seriously, people always forget how much better you feel when people, especially authority figures (which we will be in 2 weeks), are just genuinely nice to their students and care about them. Sometimes I forget to be nice when I’m in a bad mood/stressed out, but I really want to try to make sure that I keep this in mind. [Long story, but some swim team kids made me think of this because they said that unlike some coaches, I almost always am nice to them, even if I am not in the best mood.]
  12. All the while learning how to focus on what STUDENTS are doing, what they need, and how they’re progressing, and how what I am doing affects those things. If I focus on those things, everything will fall into place.
  13. Don’t forget why we love teaching. Especially when you get frustrated with a lesson/student/teacher/etc, remember that it is just one day of the rest of your career. Learn from those frustrations and try to make the next day better. 🙂

Tips and pieces of wisdom that are never too late to remember: 

  1. For those many times you get some “constructive criticism:”
    1. “There is no such thing as failure–only feedback.”
  2. “They won’t care what you know, if they don’t know that you care.” -A wise teacher
  3. “Know each of your students–even if it is just knowing their favorite movie/song/activity, or one unique thing about them–that changes everything.”
  4. “Simple: Learn Their Names.  Once you learn their names that opens up a window of opportunity to learn who they are as people, which is by far the most important aspect of teaching.  Somewhere in the ‘Teaching Bible’ it must say, ‘No Thy Student.’”—Mr. Alan Newman
  5. “If you say ‘no’, and turn it into a ‘yes’, you’ll be a hero. If you say ‘yes’ and turn it into a ‘no’, you’ll be a villain.” –One wise teacher
  6.  “You have to learn how to be different in an atmosphere that’s been the same forever.  REFUSE to conform to failure.
  7. “Always have the expectation that all students have a normal brain. Never stop pushing, no matter what others tell you your expectations should be.”
  8. “Students only have one shot at their education that will affect the rest of their lives—it’s your job to give them the best shot you can.”
  9. “There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony. There is time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time.” -Chanel
  10. Don’t Forget To Be Awesome! – John and Hank Green

A Mismatch of Classic Inspiring Teacher Quotes:

  1. “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” –William Arthur Ward
  2. “A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.” — Horace Mann
  3. “Every truth has four corners: as a teacher I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three.” –Confucius
  4. “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, the excitement, and the mystery of the world we live in.” –Rachel Carlson
  5. “The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn.” –John Lubbock
  6. “Every day is a new beginning. Treat it that way.” -Marsha Petrie Sue
  7. For teaching English:

“As a child, I read because books–violent and not, blasphemous and not, terrifying and not–were the most loving and trustworthy things in my life. I read widely, and loved plenty of the classics so, yes, I recognized the domestic terrors faced by Louisa May Alcott’s March sisters. But I became the kid chased by werewolves, vampires, and evil clowns in Stephen King’s books. I read books about monsters and monstrous things, often written with monstrous language, because they taught me how to battle the real monsters in my life.

And now I write books for teenagers because I vividly remember what it felt like to be a teen facing everyday and epic dangers. I don’t write to protect them. It’s far too late for that. I write to give them weapons–in the form of words and ideas-that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed.”  –Sherman Alexie on writing Young Adult Fiction

  1. “Hard? Of course it’s hard. Its supposed to be hard.  If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it…The hard…is what makes it great” -Tom Hanks in A League Of Their Own.
  2. The Young Man Asks Socrates For Wisdom

There’s a story about a proud young man who came to Socrates asking for knowledge.

He walked up to the muscular philosopher and said, “O great Socrates, I come to you for knowledge.”

Socrates recognized a pompous numbskull when he saw one. He led the young man through the streets, to the sea, and chest deep into water.

Then he asked, “What do you want?”

“Knowledge, O wise Socrates,” said the young man with a smile.

Socrates put his strong hands on the man’s shoulders and pushed him under. Thirty seconds later Socrates let him up.

“What do you want?” he asked again.

“Wisdom,” the young man sputtered, “O great and wise Socrates.”

Socrates crunched him under again. Thirty seconds passed, thirty-five. Forty. Socrates let him up. The man was gasping.

“What do you want, young man?”

Between heavy, heaving breaths the fellow wheezed, “Knowledge, O wise and wonderful…”

Socrates jammed him under again. Forty seconds passed. Fifty.

“What do you want?”

“Air!” the young man screeched. “I need air!”

“When you want knowledge as you have just wanted air, then you will have knowledge.”

Need some more rejuvenation?

If all of the above wasn’t enough, check out these links for more inspiration:

Letters to a first year teacher (applicable to us as well) that was written by 19 teachers. They will make you nod, laugh, cry, think, and re-think.

Taylor Mali’s Slam Poem, “What Teachers Make”

Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk on schools and creativity: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Ron Clark: How to Transform Your Classroom Interview 

*Related: Ron Clark wrote a book called The End of Molasses Classes that was a really quick, interesting read. His school is very unique, but a lot of the ideas apply anywhere. He also wrote a book called The Essential 55 with 55 life/classroom rules. Very inspirational, and helped re-shape my priorities in classroom management.

More quotes! Pinterest teaching quote board

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