As teachers, we always talk about the progress of our students. We watch them arrive (if you’re a secondary school teacher like me) bright-eyed in year 7, and grow almost unrecognizably through to year 11 and sometimes even on to the sixth form. It’s one of my favourite parts of the job, which I always feel very honoured to be able to do.
However, how often do we think about our own development over that time? I’ve been teaching for approaching six years now, and I think the effect on me has been equally as transformative as for the teenagers I work alongside.
Here are a few things that I think teaching has done to change me.
Optimism and abundance
Despite the recent attitude of scarcity in Education, I believe that education is totally abundant. There really is no limit to its transformative effects. Seeing my students succeed, not just academically, shows me this every day.
It’s a job where every hour comes with a new chance to develop and learn – and if that doesn’t make you optimistic, I don’t know what will.
Teaching can be equality frustrating and empowering and I don’t think you could be a teacher without having a good deal of patience to begin with. But since becoming a teacher I’m reminded every day how hard work pays off, how good things take time to grow and require endless persistence.
This is something I feel like I’m now able to apply in other areas of my life more effectively than I did before.
Prioritization and perfectionism
As a teacher, our work is never finished. No one will tell you to stop and you have to be able to say, “that’s good enough.”
I frequently see posts on Twitter from teachers talking about how much they have to do. Perfection in the classroom is not possible, your to-do list will never be empty and they’ll always be something else you can do.
Learning to leave that and move on is so important and applicable to everything you do. I could tweak one of my novels forever, but at some point I have to stop and move on.
Time management and getting the job done
You have no time to procrastinate as a teacher. I follow a lot of people in the writing community on Twitter and always laugh at the posts about procrastination – we would never do that. My work as a teacher has made me value time, get on with the job and get things done in a way I never did before.
Valuing my own continued learning
Seeing the effect of learning on my students makes me value it in myself. This could be in the traditional sense, through the master’s degree I’m working towards, on in a more informal sense through online courses, reading or even my choice of TV.
I’m not sure If I’ll be a teacher in a classroom my whole life, but I know the years I have spent there already have made me a more efficient, positive and forward thinking person.
What has being a teacher taught you?