Monday, October 22, 2012

So, You Want to Teach?

Anna Zhuo is an education student who has been assigned to read and comment on my blog. In her last comment she asked, "What advice would you give to a future educator?" Instead of responding in the comments, I decided the answer to that question was worthy of a blog post. 

Dear Future Educator,
Welcome to a challenging, creative and meaningful life journey. Although teaching is a way to earn a living, it is not a job. Teaching is a craft. Like any artist, you will spend your entire life obsessing over and honing your work.

•Find a mentor. Seek out a teacher or teachers you admire, someone whose classroom appeals to you. Learn from them.

•Learn from everyone. Copy what you like. Avoid what you don't like. Adapt things so they work for your students.

•Become reflective. When something goes badly, treat it like a puzzle to solve. Write about it. Talk about it. Ask your students about it. Do it over in a different way.

•Know yourself. You will bring your core values into your classroom so know where you stand and what you believe.

•As you are learning from everyone, being reflective about your teaching and knowing your core values, celebrate yourself as a learner. Share your learning with others, especially your students. Be in love with learning. Study it. As you learn new things, pay attention to how you learn them.

•Practice what you teach. If you teach reading and writing, read and write. Stay current with your subject or subjects. It is not enough that you graduated from college. That is just the beginning.

•Work within your circle of influence. The circle of influence is an idea from Stephen Covey's,  7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Highly effective people are proactive. Proactive people focus on things over which they have control. As a teacher there will be many things over which you have no control. Spend your energy on those things that you can control.

•Be prepared to work very hard. Be prepared for people to not understand how hard you work. Try not to take it personally when people say things like, "How great that you get your summers off" or "Teaching- how noble" or when people think you are patient just because you are a teacher.

•Take care of yourself. You are the conductor of energy in the room so your energy matters. Get enough sleep. Find time to exercise and relax. Have a life outside of teaching.

Your craft is the art of learning. And learning is the art of living.
Teaching is not easy. You might sometimes wish you worked at the carwash instead.
But remember that you are touching lives.

What advice do you have for future teachers? Please add your thoughts.


Anna Zhuo said...


Thank you for the reply consisting very valuable and helpful advice for me and other future educators! I hope other future educators and even current educators will find this helpful one way or another.

I have to agree that teaching is not easy. I had my share of teaching for 2-3 years as an after-school group leader of an elementary school. I won't say it's like to being a real teacher but it comes close. It was a wonderful experience and I loved the concept behind teaching. Like you said, we are touching lives. Not only that, we are helping and changing lives every second. We, as learners and educators, must be a positive role model, passionate in what we do, work hard, stand up when we fall down, and need to know how to understand others in order to produce effective learning or teaching.

It's because of those 2-3 years of being a group leader that I decided to become a "real" future educator. I want to continue helping, guiding and teaching others no matter the age. A lot of people think teaching is an easy job and that anyone can be one but that's not true. Many of my colleagues and friends look down on those who are majoring in K-6 or anything related to education because they deem it as a "useless" degree compared to engineering or medical sciences. I strongly disagree. Some people just don't understand but that is fine. Everyone has their own opinions. This is where I should not take it personally! We are helping people one way or another.

Again, thank you for your advice! I do some of what you listed but I still have a long way to go!

Anna Zhuo

Anna Zhuo said...


I will keep blogging! When I was younger, I use to blog but I never gained an authentic audience nor understood the purposes of a blog until now. I learned a lot in my EDM310 class, especially about blogging and the usage of technology in a classroom. I would love to pass on this knowledge to present & future educators, and students! Blogging is a great way to share your experiences, ideas, suggestions and a great way to communicate to the world.

Thank you again!

Anna Zhuo