Secondary Smorgasbord: Best Teaching Advice

For this month's Secondary Smoragsbord, teacher-bloggers are getting together to share some of the best teaching advice they have received.  Here's just a little of what I have learned.

When I first started teaching, I got LOTS of advice - some good, some not so good- but I think the two best pieces of advice came in my second year teaching from a veteran art teacher and all around kind person.

1. Pace yourself:  I wanted (want) to be the best teacher I can for every student. As such, I felt I needed to that every day had to be amazing!  And that simply isn't realistic. First,  it is exhausting! 
Second, I didn't teach anything twice in the first five years I taught. 

I was considered versatile so I was moved between subjects and grade levels. The result of this "versatility" was that every year I was creating curriculum from scratch, and not just for one subject, but for several. So, this teacher's sage advice was to pace myself. She reminded me that it was okay to mix simulations and station activities which took me hours to create with readings and pages already created from textbook manufacturers or other teachers. And, of course, she was right. By mixing my own curriculum with curriculum designed by others, my students benefitted from different ways of approaching topics.

The other words of wisdom from this sage was to preserve yourself. It's so easy, particularly, as a new teacher, to throw everything you have into teaching. Let's face it - you are excited to be there. You love your students! You are working hard to learn the tough ropes of teaching and give your students a great year.  And it's easy to find yourself spending long days at school and even more time planning and grading on the weekend. The schedule exhausts you and soon you have nothing left to give of yourself to your students or classroom. So successful teaching means giving but not so much that you run out of things to give. 


For me that means getting my run in every day, and most days a little yoga time,  too. It also means taking one day each week completely away from all things teaching related. I don't answer email, grade, plan or do anything related to teaching. It's my rejuvenation day.  I try to completely unplug (no computer, phone, etc) on that day when possible. And when I come back, I'm rejuvenated and ready to go. And that makes me a better teacher, which is good for everyone.

What's your best teaching advice?  Share in the comments below.  And check out all the great pieces of advice from other secondary teachers with the links below.

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4 comments

  1. Pace and Preserve are two very important ideals to live by as a teacher! :)

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  2. That's got a lovely ring to it, pace yourself and preserve yourself! I also think it's great to model this for students and encourage them to do the same--it's the only way to stay in the game for the long haul. Neither teachers nor students want to be fighting to make it to to the weekend--we should strive for sustainability. Great post!

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  3. Pace is so important! It can make you or break you in the classroom! Thanks for sharing. :)

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  4. This is one I need to listen to--I love that you take one day each week to unplug!

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