Teaching Opinion

Reflecting Back on My Early Journey During Teaching Appreciation Week

By Starr Sackstein — May 04, 2017 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Education is arguably the most challenging and rewarding career in which to become enveloped. If we don’t actively control our growth and learning, teaching can and will swallow up the unprepared teacher whole.

The ideals that once compelled us into the classroom will turn on us and send us back out searching for a different career altogether.

Every person who embarks on this amazing journey to educate has valid reasons and fears. Learning through those fears and becoming the best teachers we can be for the greater good propels most of us to keep achieving.

As each day turns into a month, a month into a semester and then a semester into a year, the assumptions about our chosen path can often derail the most motivated and productive educators. We must explore the myths we’ve created, how they began and the truth behind them to transcend these misconceptions or face being buried by them.

Like growing out of old shoes, we outgrow our myths, questioning how we ever believed what we did -only to develop new ones and continually achieve through conquering each of them.

These myths often serve a purpose: They dispel fears, channel old thinking, challenge new thinking, and create excuses for not accepting change.

The challenges of these myths created undue stress in my early career and to those around me; they forced some into early retirement and me to question my choices. This is the core reason why we must define the myths that control our progress and learn from them.

It’s through identification, definition, connection and acceptance that we can grow through our misconceptions and develop into truly inspiring educators, the kind our students deserve.

Believing sometimes that I survived in spite of myself, I realize now that each part of my journey has invented the teacher I have become.

Reflection is necessary and provides a readiness to honestly assess progress. It aligns a person, making him/her ready to develop goals to elicit essential movement forward in his/her own career.

Education is a constantly evolving entity, shifting and morphing with new data and/or the times, and early career teachers can sadly fall prey to it if not properly warned. Having the knowledge and the skills to see the changes coming better arms teachers for facing the new initiatives head on and successfully using them to help their student.

The first several years of my career were riddled with challenges and adventures that introduced me to many mentors and new ideas. These “guides” held out a hand to me in my time of need and came in all shapes and sizes. Keep your eyes open, as you never know when your next mentor/teacher/guru/friend will arrive or in what form. If not for these “saviors” in my earliest days, I might not have made it this far. The profound gratitude I feel for the support and care each person took with me is another reason I felt compelled to share these ideas with you.

During this Teacher Appreciation Week (and really every day), we must take the opportunity to say thank you to the folks who have impacted us as teachers and people and continue to inspire us even through the toughest teaching and personal times.

On your journey, events will happen. Failures accompanied by successes are inevitable and we must persevere together. Teaching will try your patience. Test your tenacity. Force you to deal with your personal demons head-on. If you intend to emerge victorious, you must be prepared to work for it.

Teaching is not for everyone, but for those for whom it is, there is no profession more rewarding. We never truly know how many lives we’ve touched what we have taught until long after the children become adults and thank us (when we’re lucky). Take solace in knowing that you have done all you can do and jump into this journey with an open heart and wide, excited eyes.

Who are you most grateful for in your journey and why? Please share

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.